The COVID-19 pandemic heighted the importance and continuing influence of prevailing global pet food trends, explained Kate Vliestra, associate director for Mintel Food and Drink. She delivered the opening session of Petfood Forum Europe 2022, held May 23 in Nuremberg, Germany, in partnership with Interzoo 2022.
Vlietstra encouraged Petfood Forum Europe attendees to leverage pet owners’ evolving priorities for their pets’ health, make sustainability efforts tangible and transparent, and continue to capitalize on the merging of humanization and premiumization.
In the U.S., 30% of pet supply buyers have reported paying more attention to their pets’ health since the beginning of the pandemic, according to Mintel/Kantar data shared by Vlietstra, and 88% agree it’s important to take preventive measures to protect a pet’s health. That may include providing supplements: 28% of U.S. pet owners do, while 35% of U.K. owners believe supplements are the most efficient way to deliver functional benefits to pets.
Vlietstra believes pet food brands must let science and data lead the way in helping pet owners make informed decisions about their pets’ health.
Consumers, including pet owners, are demanding sustainability and environmental transparency from the brands they purchase, but pet food has some catching up to do, at least compared to human food, Vlietstra said.
Mintel data shows that, as of end of 2021, 19% of global human food product launches carried an environmentally friendly packaging claim, versus only 14% for pet food. For recycling, it was 15% and 12%, respectively; for sustainable habitat or resources, 12% and 7%; and for environmentally friendly product, 10% and 8%. However, pet food claims about animal welfare did reach 6% in 2021, while human welfare claims on human food products have remained stagnant at 4% since 2019.
Pet food premiumization
Premiumization has been a force in pet food for some time now, and the pandemic only accelerated it, according to Vlietstra. From 2016 to 2021, the average cost of global pet food products launched (per 100 ml/g) soared 32%, more than most human food categories, she said.
That many pet owners are willing to pay more for pet food may be at least partially because they are forgoing having children and focusing on their pets instead. In the U.S., for example, 23% of non-parents aged 18-49 say they are very unlikely to have children; in China, 32% of pet owners view their pets as their children; and in the U.K., 56% of pet owners said they would rather cut back on the money they spend on themselves rather than what they spend on their pets.
About Petfood Forum Europe 2022
Petfood Forum Europe featured experts highlighting developments on the latest trends, research and innovation for the European pet food market. Additionally, this one-day conference provided an opportunity for pet food professionals from around the world to network, exchange ideas and do business with leading industry suppliers.