The Hottest Trends at SuperZoo

At the annual pet industry trade show in Las Vegas, manufacturers revealed which trends they are betting on in 2018 and beyond.


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Every month—every week pet industry players recalibrate their efforts, applying a combination of data and intuition to hone their product lines. Smart manufacturers aggressively weed out weak ideas while throwing more time and resources behind those that show the greatest promise.

 

In the end, marketplace performance—straight-up sales—is the top driver of these tough decisions.  

 

Such calculations and adjustments usually take place “behind the curtain,” but at SuperZoo, we get a peek at the trends and innovations that pet brands see as sales winners. Here are the patterns that stood out this year…

 

 

Potato-free Is Here To Stay
The trend toward products that are defined by what they leave out is accelerating, and there is no better example than potato-free items. Select brands are reformulating their potato-containing products to include chick peas instead, highlighting this pommes exclusion as a benefit. And there were many new items at SuperZoo that carried the “potato-free” claim. After all, potatoes are high in sugar; and if people are already starting to avoid them, then pets will not be far behind. 

 

Could potato-free be the next grain-free, perhaps? Based on GfK Point-of-Sale data, potato-free sales accounted for half a billion dollars over the past 12 months (ending May 2018), a nearly 7 percent share of the market, growing at 34 percent year over year.

 

 

“Made In The USA” May Not Be Enough
Ethical sourcing has come to the pet world. Manufacturers are sharing not just the country, but the city and state of origin for key ingredients prominently on the front of the product packaging. This level of transparency—certainly a major headache to execute—seems to be paying off in trust and loyalty for pet brands.

 

 

No Extra Trips to the Vet
Functional SKUs continue to surge, with treats, toppers and other varieties coming on strong. Whether for joint health or stress relief, these items hold the promise of warding off extra visits to the vet (possibly). Think of them as supplements for safer, happier pets.

 

 

Hemp In Bloom
Speaking of stress reduction, we see the use of CBD and hemp in treats and other items blossoming. It almost seems as if these ancient calming ingredients had suddenly been “legalized”— though, of course, they were always on the right side of the law.

 

 

Tetra Packs Are Practical Winners
Their cool looks, easy-pour design and user-friendly resealing system have made tetra packs a hit with consumers. More and more manufacturers seem to want a piece of this emerging craze.

 

 

Bone Broth Is Bubbling Up
We saw four or five brands featuring this high-iron ingredient in new products. Nothing could be more basic—but basic is back in a big way. This makes for a great meal topper, as well—another segment trending up quickly.

 

 

Shelf Stable Is Blasting Off
Astronauts took freeze-dried, shelf-stable ice cream into space, but who knew that pets would one day have their own version of this extraterrestrial treat? This and similar products were clearly making names for themselves at SuperZoo.

 

A year from now, we will no doubt see that some of these trends have fallen back, while others have picked up speed. Smart manufacturers and retailers alike will keep their eyes on the data—the ultimate barometer of what matters to consumers in the fast-changing pet marketplace. Follow the numbers, and everything else will fall into place.

 

 

Maria Lange is Business Group Director of GfK’s Pet POS Tracking team. Want to find how GfK data can help drive better decisions for your store or brand? Contact Maria at maria.lange@gfk.com

 

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