Consumers are interested in purchasing more sustainable products and "remain concerned about climate change and related sustainability issues," according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). Pet retailers can stay in step with customers by offering an array of products that recognize these concerns.

Claudia Loomis, president of CB Pet Market, a small chain of pet stores in New Jersey, said that while her shoppers are showing more interest in eco-friendly and sustainable products, they are looking for a range of product attributes.

"Sustainably sourced as a standalone feature will not be enough to sell the product," Loomis said. "For example, one of our most popular-selling dog chews are antlers. These are sustainably sourced as they are naturally shed by deer, elk or moose. But they are also a proven long-lasting chew with some nutritional value, making it a product pet parents can feel good about purchasing on several levels."

Christina Reville, marketing coordinator for Healthy Pet, which operates production and distribution in Jesup, Ga., said that the company creates small-pet bedding and cat litter from sustainably sourced, responsibly rescued natural plant fiber. Reville said it's cleaner and healthier for the entire family—two factors that are important to pet owners.

"Every year, Healthy Pet diverts millions of pounds of unused wood, pulp and paper remnants from landfills," she said. "These upcycled materials are crafted into our plant-based pet products. Plus, all finished product is biodegradable, making them better for pets, home and planet."

In 2023, Healthy Pet began producing its Ökocat natural cat litter in a 100-percent recyclable paper bag after consumer research revealed that the natural litter and Ökocat consumer has a strong desire for 100-percent recyclable packaging.

"Starting in October of 2023, the current box packaging began transitioning to new double-wall paper bags with a recyclable handle to directly answer the requests of our consumer," Reville explained. "Customers can expect to see the bags on shelves in 2024."

According to Jane Wasley, head of marketing for Healthy Pet, the consumer demand for eco-friendly litter packaging isn't being addressed by very many companies.

"Very few natural brands are meeting natural litter consumers' wants on packaging, with many still being in heavy non-recyclable, non-biodegradable plastic bags or poly pouches," Wasley said.

800x120

Spencer Williams, CEO of West Paw, a pet treats and accessories manufacturer in Bozeman, Mont., said that the company has recycled almost 150,000 pounds of dog toys and spun more than 16 million water bottles into dog beds and toy stuffing. West Paw's Seaflex toy line reclaims ocean-bound plastic. In addition, the company's freeze-dried and air-dried dog treats are crafted with humanely raised and sustainably sourced ingredients and made in the USA.

"We think not only about the finished product, but also about the materials, the whole supply chain and how it's made," Williams said. "We continue to bring new innovation to our treat line with a growing focus on regenerative beef production in Montana. New products will be coming out throughout 2024 that we're very excited about at West Paw. Many will continue our focus on regenerative practices that capture carbon, naturally sequestering it back into the soils."

Jason Ast, co-owner of Just Dog People, a pet store in Garner, N.C., said that he and his customers appreciate how West Paw recycles old products to create new products "ready to be enjoyed again."

"We also like Paw 5," Ast continued. "They say their snuffle mat removes over two pounds of textile waste from landfills. They also hire women in Ghana, teach them skills and help elevate their lives."

Larry Wright, CEO of The Green Pet Shop, a manufacturer of pet accessories in Deerfield, Ill., said that all of the company's products have some type of eco-friendly component to them.

"Our mission statement is to manufacture eco-friendly products that solve problems, are unique, and that help pets, their pet parents and the planet, at competitive prices as compared to non-eco-friendly products," Wright said. "At our company, we are all aware of the issues involving climate change and the danger it poses to our planet and future generations. We all take our responsibility to the planet seriously and are all involved in designing, testing and bringing these products to market."

800x120

For 2024, Wright said The Green Pet Shop is introducing a line of leashes and collars that will piggyback off of the success of the company's Pooie Vuiton waste bag line. The new line, Bonejour by Green Pet, will be made from recycled canvas.

Austin and Kat, a Seattle-based manufacturer of pet supplements, is also committed to sustainability in producing its chews, oils and toppers.

"Our approach involves selecting farms, suppliers and producers that uphold the highest ethical standards, ensuring both quality and sustainability," explained founder Kat Donatello. "We're passionate about running our business in environmentally friendly ways, from sourcing eco-friendly packaging to reducing our carbon footprint at our Seattle Makery. We've also embraced sustainable manufacturing, considering the full life cycle of our products from raw materials to end-of-life, to minimize environmental impact."

 

CONSUMER PREFERENCES

Interest in sustainability may be heightened in certain categories.

Loomis said that sustainability in "anything the pet eats" gets the most notice at CB Pet Market. This includes pet treats and food.

"Customers naturally want the most wholesome products for anything being consumed," she said. "We would like to see more supplements being made from whole and natural ingredients. We are beginning to see transparency in sourcing ingredients in the supplement category, but some of the traditional supplement brands we carry are [synthetic]-based vitamins and minerals. I would like to see more natural supplements, like green-lipped mussels as a natural source of glucosamine and chondroitin. Again, supplements are ingested by our pets, so it is good to keep them clean, wholesome and as bioavailable as possible."

Jenna Harrison, store manager for NorthPoint Pets & Company, a pet store in Cheshire, Conn., said that the store's biggest request for eco-friendly products is in home-compostable poop bags.

"I do wish there were more home-compostable—not biodegradable—options available," she said. "People are looking for creative ways to reduce their waste output and environmental impact, and pet care is no exception."

Ast agreed and said that poop bags are the eco-friendly option they get asked about most at Just Dog People.

"I would say 90 percent of the people who shop for poop bags prefer 'quick biodegradable' options," he said.

Reville said that Healthy Pet's research has revealed consumers want a "healthier home," which affects their buying habits across many categories—and products.

"Whether it's buying organic pet products, nontoxic and plant-based cleaning products or paraben-free beauty products, more and more consumers are looking for products that help them live a cleaner, healthier lifestyle, even when it comes to their pets," she said. "We continually educate our retailers and consumers about the importance of switching to natural, sustainable products and the impact that it has on the planet."

800x120

Retailers can play a valuable role in helping to alert customers to eco-conscious options, Loomis noted.

"Brands that tout ethically sourced, fair trade and sustainably sourced are generally a bit more pricey than other brands, and often the call-out on the product packaging is not prominent enough to have a customer notice it on their own," Loomis said. "So, the role of the sales associate is important. The associates need to be knowledgeable about the products so they can point out the different features. When comparing two similarly formulated dog foods, for instance, and trying to help the customer make their choice, it is helpful to call out if the protein source in the food is sustainably or ethically sourced; that could be the differentiator that tips the scales to that brand for the customer."

But not all efforts will pay off. Sometimes it's merely a matter of the interest level in a retailer's specific area. Ast admitted that at Just Dog People, they made a concerted effort to push a specific eco-friendly, sustainable dog food choice this past year, giving it prominent, upfront positioning and valuable space on the floor. They also created an attractive display, gave away free samples and ran a contest—all to sell only one bag of dog food.

800x120

"This says more about the demographic makeup of our customer base than it does the quality of the product," he said. "From my experience, the interest in sustainability and eco-friendliness differs greatly depending on where you are in the United States. We are based outside of Raleigh, a large city. I believe if you were to ask dog owners in downtown Raleigh what they thought of eco-friendly dog products, they would have a range of knowledge and opinions. But outside of the city, the focus on eco-friendliness and sustainability simply may not be as big a concern."

Yet that doesn't mean attitudes won't evolve.

"Even so, the pet industry has been a hotbed for eco-friendly and sustainable innovation, so we are likely to see interest continue to grow," Ast added.

By: Lindsey Getz.
Source: Pet Product News.

You could be interested: Domestic Dining


Share

Rate the reading


Videos


Events

Upcoming
Interzoo 2024

Interzoo 2024

date

May 07 to 10, 2024

marker

Nuremberg, Alemania

Upcoming
Seminar extrusion Extru-Tech - Pto. Vallarta 2024

Seminar extrusion Extru-Tech - Pto. Vallarta 2024

date

May 29 to 31, 2024

marker

Krystal Hotel , Puerto Vallarta, México

Upcoming
EXPO PACK - México 2024

EXPO PACK - México 2024

date

June 04 to 07, 2024

marker

EXPO Santa Fe - CDMX, Mexico.

Upcoming
Fenagra 2024

Fenagra 2024

date

June 05 to 06, 2024

marker

Distrito Anhembi - Sao Paulo, Brazil

Upcoming
Foro Mascotas 2024

Foro Mascotas 2024

date

June 26 to 28, 2024

marker

Expo Guadalajara, Jalisco, México.

Upcoming
World Plastic Connection Summit 2024

World Plastic Connection Summit 2024

date

August 12 to 15, 2024

marker

Sao Paulo - Brazil