The Latest in Pet and Animal Food Products

by | Jul 27, 2022 | Food Trends

When it comes to the revolution of pet food products, “pet parents” are leading the charge. Many of the changes in food production and packaging result from savvier consumers who are more concerned with pet health above all else. This means manufacturers must be aware of pet owner demand and marketing trends to best serve the marketplace. This article will uncover some of the latest trends driving the pet food industry. 

Key Takeaways

  • Black soldier fly larvae are a commonly used insect protein for pet food products. Pet foods containing this protein appeal to health-conscious pet owners since it is rich in vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and antioxidants.
  • The premiumization of pet food is a direct result of humanization. Pet owners now treat their pets as children, making them opt for “premium” quality pet food with healthy ingredients.
  • There are many new plant-based options in development for pet food. Market trends show that the vegan pet food market will grow to over $16 billion by 2030.

Pet Food Products Packed with Insect Protein

Some pet foods utilize insect protein instead of more traditional protein sources such as poultry and fish. Unlike traditional protein sources, insects do not require vast water and land resources nor produce the carbon emissions associated with producing meat. However, insects are a complete animal protein with the same essential amino acids as traditional sources. 

Globally, many species of insects are used for pet food consumption, but one of the most common insects used is black soldier fly larvae. This species consumes nutrients from crops that would otherwise be wasted. Insects offer many additional benefits, including:

  • Vitamin and mineral-rich, which can absorb at faster rates in the body than nutrients from other sources 
  • Insects have a high concentration of antioxidants, which are critical in protecting the body from free radicals that can cause cell damage 
  • Edible insect protein is packed with essential fatty acids 
  • The exoskeleton of insects, chitlin, contains prebiotic fiber that is beneficial to pet gut health because of the beneficial bacteria that it contains

Premiumization of Pet Food Products 

Premiumization refers to manufacturing pet food products with premium or super-premium ingredients. Different manufacturers may define what premium and super-premium mean or use the terms interchangeably. However, there are common denominators that manufacturers abide by when using these terms. 

Premium and super-premium pet food products won’t contain preservatives or artificial colors, no bone and meat meal, and no animal by-products. Instead, these pet food products will contain fresh meat from poultry or fish, made only from meat with a high nutritional content or exotic proteins. Examples of exotic proteins include kangaroo, alligator, quail, duck and many more. 

Why Premiumization? 

Research indicates that the premiumization trend of pet food products is here to stay and facilitate overall market growth. The driving force behind premiumization is the rise of pet humanization. In other words, today’s pet owners are much more focused on treating their pets like children than animals. Therefore, they are more concerned with their pets’ health and quality of life. 

Millennials are now the highest percentage of pet owners in the United States. Over 80% of that generation are dog owners. Couple these facts with the adage, “dog is man’s best friend,” and the trend of pet humanization becomes clearer. Premium pet food products contain formulas that bolster animal immunity, support strong bones, foster muscle development, and optimize digestion and overall energy, all of which concern millennial “pet parents.” 

Pet ownership breakdown by generation and pet type. Millennials lead the pack when it comes to owning a pet. A significant majority own dogs.

Image Courtesy of Pet Food Processing

Plant-Based Pet Food Products 

Similar to plant-based human food products, there has been a demand for plant-based pet products. The vegan pet food market is estimated to eclipse $16 billion by 2030. Plant-based pet food products result from increased sustainability efforts because plants, like insects, use less water, land, and energy to produce than animal proteins. 

Projected growth of the U.S. vegan pet food market by 2030

Image Courtesy of Allied Market Research

Plant-Based Options

When it comes to plant-based options for pet food products, there are already some options on the market that have been available for years. These products include peas, wheat, potatoes, corn, and soybeans. Additionally, emerging options are being tested or have yet to be widely adopted. These products include duckweed, algae, quinoa, and sunflower seeds. 

Algae and duckweed are two choices that pose unique variables when compared to the others. Both sea plants are water grown and can be grown throughout the year given the correct climates. Duckweed also has a higher concentration of amino acids than other plant proteins. Additionally, it has a comparable amount of protein to animal-based food products for pets.

New Packaging Solutions 

Sustainability efforts aren’t just affecting the ingredients in pet food products but also the packaging itself. According to research, 75% of consumers prefer a brand with more sustainable packaging. For example, some dry food pet manufacturers seek to use recyclable paper bags rather than the industry standard poly-woven bags to store food. 

However, there are numerous challenges associated with sustainable packaging. First and foremost, the packaging needs to be durable enough to house a lot of weight and remain intact through the distribution process. Additionally, the packaging needs to be convenient for consumers and adhere to innovative food packaging trends for the future. Recyclable plastic bags and pouches may be an option that can meet all these criteria. 

Transparency is another factor driving new packaging solutions for pet food products. Pet humanization means that “pet parents” want manufacturers to identify which ingredients are in their products. In human food products, manufacturers have turned to organic, soy-free, and non-GMO labels, among others, and there is no exception for animal food products. 

Learn More About the Latest in Pet Food Products

SIAL America is a hub for pet food product professionals from across the industry. Our conference serves as a dual-purpose event for networking and education, where you can connect and learn to gain a competitive advantage in your niche. 

Book your booth at our next event and learn more about pet food products.