Human food trends offer ideas for new pet treat and topper development

In the pet food market today the fastest growing categories are pet treats, toppers and mixers, plus pet foods with inclusions. Pet food manufacturers looking to capitalize on this hot segment have several product development opportunities based on pet owner needs and desires, said Petfood R&D Showcase 2018 keynote speaker Lynn Dornblaser.

Dornblaser, director of innovation and insight for Mintel, noted the most important pet food trends parallel ones in human snacks, particularly health and wellness. Consumers seek food for their pets the same way they choose foods for themselves. Simple ingredients, clean labels, fortified nutrition and information on sourcing are several factors consumers currently take into consideration.

According to a survey conducted by Mintel, 27 percent of U.S. consumers look for limited ingredient lists in pet foods. Dornblaser mentioned it is much easier to achieve a very short ingredient list for a pet treat or topper than with a complete pet diet.

Superfoods are other ingredients to consider when developing new pet treats or toppers. According to Mintel, 26 percent of U.S. consumers seek products that include superfoods.  Additionally, 37 percent of pet owners look for natural products, 18 percent seek organic products, while 52 percent look for pet treats providing added or functional nutrition.

Dornblaser also noted that treats and toppers are mainly targeted at dogs. She explained that at least half of the nearly 500 new pet food and treats products released in the U.S. this year have been dog treats and snacks. This presents a real opportunity in the market for cat treats and toppers especially for older or finicky cats who may need an appetite boost, medication or prescription food.

“Toppers can add enticement to regular diets for dogs and cats, and keep them eating what they’re supposed to,” said Dornblaser.

Petfood R&D Showcase will take place again in the fall of 2019 in Manhattan, Kansas featuring a new and exclusive theme.