Petfood Industry - January 2018 - 26
26 | www.PetfoodIndustry.com
➥3 PET FOOD TRENDS THAT CONTINUE TO REDEFINE THE INDUSTRY
Grain-free: a continuing pet food trend
➥Grain free has long evolved from the simple "free of" corn
claims at its roots. Now, pet food formulations are full of grain
alternatives, and some pet food experts are beginning to see
a rebirth of grains in the form of ancient or exotic grains.
"Obviously, the grain-free trend is likely to continue into the
new year," said Levi Wittenmyer, vice president at Best Breed
Inc. It was a sentiment expressed by many industry experts.
"The momentum is still strong, even if off slightly from
2016," said Maria Lange, business group director, Pet POS
tracking for GfK. "More than 50 percent of all item introductions in 2017 were grain free, and brands that always said
they would not go grain free have done so. Grain-free sales
have been growing at 9 percent over the past 12 months,
which is significant given that the overall market is flat and
that sales for products with grains are declining at a steady
-5 percent. You really can find grain-free pet foods anywhere
now - they are fully mainstream. And, for me, trends like
role in how the industry communicates," said Mary
Emma Young, director of communications for PFI.
"We are in an era in which information is immediately
accessible at our fingertips, contributing to increasingly vocal desire among shoppers to learn more about
how pet food is made or why certain ingredients may
be used. This has created an opportunity for pet food
makers to join the conversation. We are witness to
a similar dialogue in human food production with
efforts to help inform and provide facts when opinion
can be viewed as more credible than evidence. While
the specific trends may vary from year to year, the
demand for transparency is here to stay. PFI's goal is
to help meet that broader and growing expectation."
Sustainability: Looking ahead to
future pet food practices
Linked with both "clean" and "transparent" is
"sustainable," the third buzzword pet food industry
experts expect to hear in 2018.
"'Sustainably produced' will recognize environmentally friendly practices," said Nick Manley,
communications manager for Bühler Aeroglide. "And
sustainability in terms of processing and how pet
'ancestral' and 'high protein' are subsets of grain-free that are
going to continue to drive sales in 2018."
According to WATT Global Media's Dog and Cat Food
Ingredient Center (www.pet-ingredients.com), a database of
pet food ingredient labels and their contents, 45 percent of
dry dog food and 49 percent of dry cat food recipes appear
to be grain free (that is, the ingredient statements exclude all
forms of rice, wheat, barley, corn, oats, flax, millet, sorghum,
flax and soy).
But, as Wittenmyer also pointed out, the maturing grainfree trend may be providing opportunities for whatever the
next grain-related step is.
"We are hearing more and more from customers who
are questioning whether grain free is always the best when
feeding a dry kibble," he said. "We feel there is a need for
both grain-free and healthy grain foods, depending on the
need of a particular pet."
food manufacturers can increase output and decrease
energy use will be increasingly recognized."
One of the most prominent pet food industry
segments where sustainability has been discussed
is packaging, where innovators are coming up with
technologies to ensure pet food manufacturers have
something to promote to their environment-conscious
"With the number of millennial pet parents
continuing to rise, sustainability will continue to be a
huge focus when they are out shopping for themselves
or their pets," said Blaine Johnson, business development director, North America, for Tetra Pak. "To meet
this growing demand, brands will continue to shift to
more environmentally friendly options."
All in all, pet food industry experts expect the
industry to carry on as it always has: walking the line
between what customers want and what pets need,
speaking to pet owners on their level while educating
them on pet nutrition, and innovating to stay on top
of the shifting trends that are so wrapped up in pet
owners' humanization of their furry friends. It looks to
be another busy year on the horizon for the industry,
but everyone thinks pet food is up to the challenge. ■