Pet food innovation - five trends to watch in 2018
Pets are big business: in the UK alone there are some 58 million, with an estimated 46% of households owning a pet. The pet food industry in the UK is worth close to £3 billion and the biggest value areas are cats and dogs. So, what are the next big trends in pet food?
The USA is a world leader in the pet food industry and influences many of the trends in the UK. Most trends in pet food follow trends in human foods because pet food has to appeal to the person who buys it - not just the pet that eats it.
One of the main trends is making pet food resemble human food in as many ways as possible, including ingredients, appearance, aroma and product names. Retailers are already starting to offer pet food that is seasonal, has free-from or clean labels, or is described as homemade.
As the trends in pet food continue to follow the trends in human food, the desire for premium ingredients and premium pet foods has increased, including the trend for traceable and locally sourced ingredients - 80% of raw materials now used in UK pet food are sourced from within the UK. There is also a rising demand for pet food recipes that are simple and natural, gourmet or British, made with authentic ingredients and have a high protein, high vegetable content, and contain botanicals and super foods.
Raw meats and treats
Raw meat products are already being produced for both cats and dogs. Currently they are purchased and stored frozen and then thawed just before serving. Freeze dried raw foods are also growing in popularity, particularly in the US. Freeze dried raw meats are often included as part of a complete food and are rehydrated to feed to a pet.
The dog and cat treat market is one of the fastest growing areas in pet food - it has increased in volume and value year-on-year. The trends for humanisation, premiumisation and raw meat (freeze dried) can also be seen in treat trends. You can now buy dog muffins, crisps and popcorn, as well as dog and cat beer and wine!
Purchases of single-serve wet cat food are increasing as consumers look to buy a variety of single-serve flavours to please their fussy felines. Cats are notoriously fussy eaters so palatability and variation are key. Single-serve recipes often reflect the trends for premiumisation and humanisation, and help drive innovations in packaging (e.g. pots, pouches).
There has been a growing interest in the use of insects as an alternative source of protein in human food. While it might be some time before we see them forming a regular part of Western diets, pets may prove to be less fussy.
There are a limited number of pet foods on the market that incorporate insect proteins, but this area may well increase as people look for a lower impact, more sustainable and cheaper source of pet nutrition.
There are many steps in the development of a new pet food including formulation, nutritional analysis, feeding studies, product trials, and packaging design. We have an extensive pilot plant which enables us to simulate on a small scale many operations commonly found in pet food manufacturing premises. This enables you to trial a variety of product types and formats, packaging and equipment in one place without production down time.
To find out more about how we can help you produce safe, nutritious and palatable products for pets, please get in touch.