Top 5 Things to Know from Petfood Forum 2016
This year, Pet Business had the privilege of attending Petfood Forum as part of a select group of pet industry media outlets invited to the annual conference and trade show. Experts of all kinds provided insight into current and emerging trends in the pet food industry, as well as new opportunities and challenges that will alter the composition of the dog and cat food aisles of tomorrow. These five key points provide a look at what retailers can take away from this year’s conference:
- Freeze-dried is here to stay.
GfK’s Maria Lange presented plenty of proof that freeze-dried food and treats are still enjoying explosive popularity, with the number of items in the category more than doubling in the last five years. Between 2014 and 2015, the freeze-dried market grew by 63 percent. Far from a fad at this point, experts predict the category will continue to grow.
- Novel proteins have mainstream potential.
There was plenty of discussion about kangaroo, alligator, venison, rabbit and other uncommon meats in pet diets and treats, with presenter Mark J. Mendal making the case in his presentation that these are healthier, less likely to be allergenic and potentially more sustainable than traditional proteins. But novel proteins likely won’t be flooding the market just yet—there are obstacles both in securing supply sources and in demand, where retailers will likely play a critical role in educating consumers if these kinds of products are to be successful.
- Sustainability matters, more and more.
From ingredients to packaging, pet food manufacturers are working to provide products that will meet the approval of sustainability-minded pet owners. It’s more important than ever for retailers to be informed about the sourcing practices and environmentally conscious choices companies make about packaging, processing and ingredients and provide that information to concerned consumers.
- Petfood Forum 2017 wants you.
The Petfood Forum organizers enthusiastically encourage retailers to consider attending the conference in the future. “Retailers should be coming and getting better educated about pet food, food safety and more,” said Nancy Batio, director of marketing for WATT Global Media, which puts on the event. “The better they understand these things, the better it is for everyone.”
The conference can also give retailers a new perspective on the pet food companies they work with, helping them better inform their customers. “It’s a chance to interact with other people from these companies besides sales,” said Debbie Phillips-Donaldson, editor-in-chief of Petfood Industry magazine. Retailers can talk directly to the scientists and researchers who develop the diets for a true insider look at everything that goes into creating high quality foods.
- You’re not just feeding a pet.
You’re feeding a member of the family. As retailers see in all aspects of the industry, the humanization of pets continues to drive innovation in pet food and treats as trends move from the dinner table to the pet bowl at faster and faster rates. From Dogs Love Kale’s kale-based treats to The Honest Kitchen’s bone broth, food and treat manufacturers are continually incorporating more human health foods into pets’ diets. Retailers can only expect to see that trend grow as increasing numbers of pet parents seek out the healthiest, most nutritious options for their dogs and cats.