On June 13, 2017 in Cologne, Germany, industry experts and more than 200 pet food professionals gathered for Petfood Forum 2017. Throughout this valuable one-day conference participants had unique educational opportunities, with over ten experts who shared their latest research on a variety of important pet food-related subjects. One of these presentations featured a study conducted by DSM Nutritional Products, and was presented by Sarah-Jane Godfrey, technical marketing manager for DSM. Godfrey’s educational session revealed results from this exclusive study, which focused on European pet owners’ attitudes about pet nutrition. More than 2,500 dog and cat owners in the UK, Germany and Spain rate natural, functional nutrition and the source and amount of protein ingredients as the most important features in the pet foods they buy.
Results of the study also indicated that unlike pet owners in markets such as the US, the European pet owners surveyed were not as concerned about grain in pet foods, as grain free, along with gluten free, which fell to the bottom of the list of pet food attributes rated for importance. Other features that were rated relatively low included price, brand and country of manufacture, while ingredients in general and whether they are sustainably sourced rated higher, Godfrey reported.
Sarah-Jane Godfrey was just one of 10 experts presenting the newest research during Petfood Forum Europe. Additional presentations included insights on the European and global pet food markets, functional ingredients, processing innovations and more.
European pet food market: two distinct regions
The conference kicked off with a presentation by Paula Flores, global head of pet care research for Euromonitor International, which consisted of an update on the European pet food and pet care market. She characterized it as a “tale of two regions,” with total Western Europe pet care sales at US$28 billion, divided almost evenly among dog food, cat food and pet products, and marked by slow growth (about 2 percent annually). In comparison, Eastern Europe is dominated by cat food and shows 4 percent compound annual growth, with some markets as high as 8 percent, and total pet care sales of US$5 billion.
Specific to pet food, Western Europe reached about 1.6 million tons in volume in 2016, with a slight decline (-0.9 percent), and Eastern Europe hit 571,000 tons and 3 percent growth. The premium category drives pet food sales in Western Europe, though growth is still less than 2 percent for that category; in Eastern Europe, economy and mid-priced are the largest pet food categories, while premium pet food, while still a small category, is growing 6 percent a year.
Other sessions during Petfood Forum Europe 2017 included tackling dogs’ age-related cognitive decline with polyphenols, by Anne LePoudere of Vivae-Diana Pet food; making your pet food processing system flexible to keep up with pet food trends, by Galen Rokey of Wenger Manufacturing; protein in pet food, by Jennifer Adolphe, PhD, of Petcurean; freeze-dried pet food, by Calvin Smith of Pet Nutrition NZ; the effects of prebiotic fructans in overweight dogs, by Franka Neumer, PhD, of Beneo; increasing pet food process energy efficiency with dryer automation, by Anders Haubjerg, PhD, of Graintec; a novel ingredient to treat hip dysplasia in dogs, by Erena Gil-Quintana, PhD, of Eggnovo; and tracing the mineral profile of dry dog food, by Ana Margarida Pereira, of University of Porto.
Save the date for the next Petfood Forum Europe, which will next take place June 13, 2019. Stay tuned for event details, expected to be released in winter 2018!