For most people, their pets are their fur babies who are treated as full-fledged members of the family. This has been true for a long time, but it continues to find new expression in the foods people buy for their pets. In the past, the choices were pretty much limited to wet or dry food. But in recent years the demand for tastier, healthier, and more elaborate options has been driven by a new generation of devoted pet owners who care about the quality of their pet’s food as much as their own. Below are some of the pet food trends to look for in 2023.
In the same way that consumers are increasingly aware of the social and environmental impact of their own food purchases, pet food choices are becoming more closely linked with the owners’ values. For example, trending concerns like sustainability and the impact of food production on the environment are expected to be an even greater factor in consumers’ pet food choices in 2023. Just like with other purchasing decisions, pet owners will use their dollars to reflect their values while also making sure their pets have higher quality food options.
While some people have the resources to provide expensive gourmet meals for their pets, the truth is that most pet owners are living on a budget. This means that affordability—especially when the economy has been at an uncertain place for so long—is going to be a key trend in the upcoming year. Pet owners expect an excellent product that fits their value system while also being affordable. Fortunately, some of the steps companies are taking to improve sustainability also have the potential to lower costs and pass those savings onto the consumer.
Health and Wellness
Another pet food trend that is seeing parallels with human behavior is the focus on overall health and wellness. Concepts that were once solely the province of humans—mental health, skin care, gut health, and others—are now expanding to include cats, dogs, and other kinds of pets. Beyond grooming business morphing into pet spas with various treatments, pet food is starting to be developed for and marketed toward greater health concerns. 2023 will see even more options that promise to improve longevity, vitality, heart function, joint function, and many other areas of pet health. And while there are many opinions about the healthiest dog food, vegetables like sweet potatoes, broccoli, green beans, and carrots can provide the necessary carbohydrates, fiber, and vitamins pets need and pet owners are looking for.
In addition to an increased focus on healthy pet food, there is also an ongoing rise in the availability and usage of pet supplements. As with human supplements, these are dietary add-ons that are meant to bolster the nutritional benefit received from food. Usually in the form of small chewables, these supplements can essentially become a replacement for dog or cat treats that owners love to give to their pets. Supplements can be geared toward many aspects of health, but the most popular varieties are intended to improve gut health and theoretically boost their microbiome.
Innovations in plant-based proteins as substitutes for meat for humans have seen a steady rise in recent years, but this trend is likely to also extend into the realm of pet food. Pet owners who choose plant-based protein substitutes tend to do so because of the perceived health value as well as the sustainable way they can be produced. These same pet owners are interested in making similar food decisions for their beloved pets. Though soy protein has been the most dominant version used for pet food, there are newer types like pea protein and rice protein that will also see growth in 2023 and beyond.
Raw and Minimally Processed Food
One trend that is still somewhat new even in the human food market is raw, gently cooked, or minimally processed food items. This approach to food favors freshness and is typically kept frozen until ready to consume, but it is also an upcoming trend to look for in the pet food space. Raw dog food, for example, might include organ meats, muscle, eggs, or pet-safe fruits and vegetables. Many pet owners are choosing raw or minimally processed pet food because it purportedly has benefits for dental health, skin health, and digestive health. It also represents another way that pet owners are eager to find new ways to care for their pets and “humanize” the foods they eat.
Better, More Premium Ingredients
A consideration at the core of most new pet food trends is unsurprisingly related to themes in human food: better ingredients. Just as many consumers are more and more curious about what goes into the food they eat, pet owners are seeking products with high quality, natural, whole ingredients that are associated with health and wellness. One of the motivations for this change is finding foods with ingredients that their pets would have encountered in their natural habitats prior to being domesticated. And while dry “kibble” remains the most common type of pet food available, alternative pet foods continue to increase in popularity.
High Quality Ingredients from Silva
More than perhaps ever before, pets are being regarded as family in households across America, and pet owners are looking for better products with better ingredients. At Silva, we are passionate about providing high quality ingredients from only the best sources for human food applications and pet food applications alike. But beyond the excellent products we offer, we are proud to be a great partner for your business so you can keep delivering excellence to your customers. If you’d like to learn more about working with Silva, please contact us today.