Now, pets have stopped coming into people's lives for utilitarian purposes, as it was in the past with surveillance or grazing, for instance. Pets are closer to people and people to them, fully engaged intellectually and emotionally, so much so that around 22% of millennials and gen z say they prefer having a pet to having children.

As these animals are more at the center of their owners' lives, new demands, trends, and, of course, opportunities are coming to the pet food industry.


Integrative approach

A report of ADM company affirms that one of the most important trends for 2023 is the need for pet food with an integrative approach. To have a futuristic vision, pet food companies need to stop focusing only on quality and consider other aspects that make up the product as well, such as ease of use and packaging practicality, sustainable sourcing, and environmental care. More than 42% of pet owners prefer pet food with sustainably sourced ingredients. The increasing pet humanization is fostering a holistic approach to pet wellness, including weight management, digestive health, and personalized premium solutions, among others.

In 2023, the most successful brands will be those that are already broadening their vision and seeking a more holistic approach to pet food.


Scientific evidence ahead

The ADM report also shows that pet owners know more about animal health. An article on the Internet that recommends a food type or ingredient is no longer enough for them. Instead, they want and demand evidence and scientific studies that certify the effectiveness of certain ingredients, supplements, or treatments. 57% of pet owners worldwide affirm that the health claim on product packaging is essential when choosing a pet food.

Thus, labels such as "clinically tested", "scientifically studied", or "recommended by veterinarians" could considerably increase the chances of being the chosen product.


Innovation in production and affordability

Pet owners, and especially younger ones, such as millennials and gen Z, are, to a greater or lesser extent, informed about technological innovation and how it can impact food health. Raised on the Internet and with trends and updates of products and solutions on the order of the day, they are quick to recognize, but also to demand, innovation in everything they consume. And their pet food is no exception.

Innovative product launching is an opportunity to create a superior and pleasant experience, both for the owners and the animals that consume said product. Two out of three pet owners internationally like to come across pet food with new and innovative flavors.

For its part, affordability is another fundamental aspect in which innovation has a preponderant place. Feeding so many pets with affordable nutrition is a challenge that can only be overcome through innovation to meet the demand for high nutritional value at the right price, in both developed and developing countries.


Personalized and specific pet care

Personalized nutrition strategies, tailored to the specific needs of an individual pet, can enhance healthy aging and development. Products with specific benefits give consumers confidence that they will deliver the desired results. Plus, with more health and wellness options to choose from, owners can see which products offer unique ways to address specific concerns. Younger pet owners often look for those that can support immune function and general wellness for lifelong benefits. Parents of older pets often look for custom solutions, such as those that address joints and mobility. Functional treats (made with food ingredients that offer nutritional benefits) and pet health supplements (that support a specific body structure or function and are not nutritional) are segments expected to grow rapidly.


Quality is the thing

Although owners have recently begun to spend more on food and treats for their pets, they are also demanding higher-quality products. And by quality, we mean natural. They prefer ingredients more similar to those that wild canines and felines would have found in their natural habitats, or even pet food with a quality close to what they themselves would eat (hence, for example, the rejection of meat by-products, or the slow acceptance of alternative proteins, such as insect one).

While traditional dry kibble is still the type more consumed, sales of other alternatives have been slowly growing, such as mixes of kibble and freeze-dried meat and vegetable chunks or dehydrated and freeze-dried foods.

By 'natural,' pet owners demand non-GMO ingredients, novel proteins, and plant-based foods.


Brands with values, above all else

Global inflation is driving some property segments out of the market, a situation exacerbated by brick-and-mortar retailers reducing the allocation of shelf space to value-oriented suites of solutions. Faced with an increase in prices and a decrease in their salaries, pet owners incline towards one brand or another due to the value, transparency, and trust they represent and transmit, both in their marketing and in their products mainly.

Today's brands must deeply cultivate their values ​​to gain an understanding of where consumers draw the line of engagement.

Of course, hand in hand with values ​​and transparency, the trend for clean labels grows. Not only due to a lack of ethics but also due to the research carried out by consumers before their purchase decisions, transparency is needed on the labels of food products so as not to throw overboard all the actions carried out to demonstrate a brand's value.

Modern pet parents treat their pets just as well, if not better than themselves. And, although pet tastes do not change from year to year, the interests of their owners do, and, after all, they are the ones who choose us first as brands.

Although we cannot predict the future, we can use the data and information available to start analyzing and looking for alternatives for our businesses so that we remain competitive in the market and, above all, offer the solutions that our consumers need.


Source: All Pet Food Magazine

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