Petfood processors will have to respond to significant new market trends. The desires and demands of petfood buyers are shifting, and this means that many petfood producers will change what they’re asking processors for. A quick look at the three biggest sales trends reveals why and how.
Trend 1: Higher product quality
Premiumization? Humanization? Call it what you will, the meaning is the same: petfood buyers are becoming more discerning. And they’re increasingly making purchasing decisions in the belief that ‘what’s good for me is also good for my pet’.
Petfood doesn’t typically contain human-grade ingredients, of course – but increasingly, buyers expect something close. Their beloved pets deserve foods containing nutritious and healthy ingredients, high in vegetable and protein content. Better still, ‘functional’ ingredients perceived to have digestive, cognitive, anti-inflammatory, and skin-nutrition benefits.
This means buyers are demanding higher-quality products. And though they are typically prepared to pay a little more for these, it’s not much. So now more than ever, processing lines need to be creating petfood ingredients free of imperfections and precisely matched to the client’s specifications at the same time as controlling production costs by maximizing efficiencies and minimizing food waste.
Trend 2: Transparent sustainability
Buyers don’t only want to know that they are feeding their pets good ingredients. They also like to be reassured that the food minimizes or excludes the use of such things as sugars, grains, dyes, and chemical alternatives.
More buyers are also becoming curious about where animal food sources were reared and managed, and where plant food sources were cultivated and harvested. Interested, too, in whether the manufacturer respects the need for sustainable, ethical practices which minimize food production’s environmental footprint. And because more buyers are taking the time to read product labels for this kind of information, full disclosure can make the difference between clinching the sale or losing it.
This again means that petfood producers will increasingly expect processors to precisely grade ingredients and minimize food waste. It also means the use of meat and poultry by-products need no longer be thought of as a dirty business. Quite the opposite, in fact, because smart marketing can affirm the environmental responsibility of using parts of farm animals that would otherwise go to waste.
Trend 3: Online sales
Much of the recent growth in the US petfood market is attributed to online sales, particularly from sites such as amazon.com and chewy.com – and where US e-commerce leads, other nations soon follow. This may seem to be of little consequence to petfood processors, but for two very good reasons it is.
One reason is that online buyers, shopping from the comfort of their own homes, tend to spend more time researching and comparing products. This amplifies the demand for ‘clean label’ petfood of dependable high quality. The other reason is that many online sales platforms give customers the chance to submit product reviews. This is yet another reason why product quality must be faultless.
These escalating expectations can look like threats. But they are also an opportunity: petfood processors who invest in state-of-the-art sorting technologies will achieve the required standards, maximize efficiencies, minimize food waste, and gain a competitive edge.