The Premium Ingredient Trend in Pet Food

Consumers are treating pets as members of their families, and this pet humanization has evolved to the point where pet owners are demanding natural, high-quality ingredients and products to ensure their pets stay healthy. Pet owners want pet foods that will add excitement to the pets’ diets via look-alike human recipes, and meal specific foods such as appetizers, snacks and breakfast. The pet food industry has responded to pet owners through product expansions and selections, incorporating requests for natural, organic, eco-friendliness, health and wellness, plus new flavour and packaging options.

Premium Ingredients

The catastrophic recall of 2007, the largest recall in the history of the pet food industry, quickened the pace towards premium ingredients from traceable sources. Like the trend in human food, the movement is to know where your food comes from, and consumers want to know manufacturers are adhering to high quality and safety standards. A small but significant number of North American pet food makers are preparing their product with local ingredients, from farm-bred protein sources to regional grains, fruits and vegetables and not outsourcing any ingredients or manufacturing activities from countries such as China.

Go Fruits, Veggies and Pulses

Fruits, vegetables and pulses are going mainstream in the pet food industry too. North American pet food manufacturers requiring premium, holistic ingredients that are grown and manufactured with the highest quality standards resulting in optimal nutrient content are now CPG’s clients. From vegan to high fibre, CPG purees are allowing pet food manufacturers to easily respond special dietary needs. As we have witnessed in the human food sector, there is a niche market in the pet food segment wanting tailored ingredients such as wheat-free, gluten-free and GMO-free and the minimally processed CPG purees are excellent options for this need.

More Organics

The 2007 recall opened the door for more consumer friendly labels with terms including organic, human-grade and free-range. Consumers want more organic fruit, vegetables and pulses in their pet’s food with no fillers, artificial ingredients or by-products. We continue to see increased product launches with organic being a driver in human food. In pet food, organic sales tend to be combined with those for natural products; for example, Packaged Facts’ report “Pet Food in the US, 11th Edition” (September 2014) indicated that organic and natural pet food sales are projected to increase 14.6% annually through 2019.

Final Thought

Four out of five pet owners now consider their pet a member of the family, and consumers are shifting their priorities when it comes to purchasing food for their pets accordingly (Mintel, Pet Food, 2013). Innovative producers including CPG Purees are especially competitive in responding to this consumer attitude by offering premium, holistic, and organic options to support the health and wellbeing of these beloved family members. And the forecast suggests nothing but continued growth in the premium pet food sector, as it accounted for 40 percent of the 26 billion dollar U.S. pet food market in 2013 (Packaged Facts, 2014).

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Jane Dummer, RD (www.janedummer.com), known as the "Pod to Plate" Food Consultant, collaborates with the food and nutrition industry across North America.