Now that we’ve wrapped up the wild year that was 2020, it’s time to look ahead to what pet industry trends may dominate here in 2021. The coronavirus pandemic made new pet owners out of millions of Americans and many more people worldwide. With new pet owners entering the market and many long-time owners having more time on their hands to research the products they give their pets, there has never been a better time to think carefully about how you position your products in the market.
Science, Natural Ingredients, and Healthy Pet Food
The pandemic made many people more concerned about both their budgets and their health, both of which are sure to play a role in how people shop this year. These two trends are set to extend beyond the food consumers are buying for themselves and into the products they buy for their pets. This means many shoppers are likely to be scrutinizing ingredient lists even when shopping for higher-end treats and pet food.
An increased interest in marrying the concepts of science-based food formulation and simple, natural ingredient lists will likely continue to influence purchasing decisions in the coming year. While these two concepts have sometimes been seen in the past as opposing directions in purchasing or producing pet food and pet treats, market surveys and research are showing that customers are starting to harmonize these concepts.
As science continues to show that simple, natural ingredients have measurable benefits in the food and treats our pets consume, customers may be even more motivated to buy products that can show their nutritional credentials clearly through carefully selected, quality ingredients.
Nutrition Trends in Pet Food
Not all human food trends translate well into the pet food world. Over the last several years, trends toward gluten-free eating have picked up steam in human diets in the Western world. When it comes to pets, though, there is a bit of nuance to the debate about what grains are actually good for pets.
The wider aversion to gluten in human food has resulted in some manufacturers moving away from filler ingredients like wheat or corn and gravitating toward nutrient-rich sweet potatoes, alternative grains, and other vegetables. This trend will likely continue as customers increasingly see these newer ingredients on packaging and begin to associate them with healthy products for their pets.
Nutrient-rich foods like spinach, kale, blueberries, and carrots will likely continue to feature highly in nutrition-focused pet foods. These and other colorful ingredients like beets can be included to help create fresh, appealing colors that signal to consumers a particular treat or food has the whole ingredients they are looking for.
Short ingredient lists are going to still feature prominently in 2021, and the same can be said for whole ingredients. Rather than meat byproducts, customers are gravitating to whole meat proteins in many pet foods. This trend is spreading into fruits and vegetables with preferences starting to show for whole plant-based ingredients rather than vegetable pumice, extracted fibers, or other plant byproducts.
Health and wellness is on everyone’s mind as we start 2021, and this will only add fuel to customer interest in the customizable wellness benefits different foods can have for their furry friends. Whether it is joint health, better dental care, a shinier coat, or even age-specific health concerns, the particular ingredient mixes you offer in your pet food can help customers narrow in on the benefits they are looking for. Selecting a specific mix of vegetables and fruits tailored to provide fiber, nutrients, antioxidants, and more to help pets of a specific age or dietary need live well is likely to be popular.
Vegetables in Cat Food
Cats have a well-deserved reputation of wanting things their own way, and that definitely extends to their diets. Though dogs’ digestive tracts can tolerate a wider range of foods, healthy cats need high-quality protein and a lot of it. It is possible to fortify a cat’s diet with some nutrients found in vegetables, but this must be supporting the fats and proteins they are getting from the main ingredients in their diet.
Getting the right amount of fiber and antioxidants is a concern for cats just as it is for humans. Here natural ingredients like cranberries, apples, and blueberries are all great sources of these nutrients. Similarly, broccoli is a great source of calcium and potassium, both of which are essential to a cat’s health.
New Trends in Pet Food Production
One trend that has emerged over the last few years, and which is likely to continue in 2021, is an increasing awareness among customers of the effects of the high heat used in some pet food production. Knowing the potential for nutrient breakdown when natural ingredients are exposed to high temperatures, producers and consumers alike are turning their attention to alternative production processes such as adding ingredients later in the production process after any cooking has occurred.
Skipping any baking steps or adding uncooked ingredients can bring up the potential danger of contaminants. Here Silva’s steam sterilization step provides the assurance that, even if your natural ingredients are not going through the same baking or curing portions of the process, they will still be guaranteed to be free of contaminants. This can be a huge benefit for customers who are equally concerned about the safety and the nutrition content of the food and treats they are giving their pets.
Steam sterilization is particularly important for fresh pet foods that are intended to be eaten raw. For some protein-first canned cat foods, the final product needs to be kept refrigerated to prevent spoiling. This makes it even more important to know that the preparation of every ingredient has been considered carefully, and that steps have been taken to prevent any potentially dangerous bacteria or pests from being included in the final product.
At Silva, we work hard to bring you the highest quality ingredients from only the best producers. Our wide range of products, and the intensive production and preparation processes they go through, mean you have the options you need to keep your product line fresh, whether that means high-quality fresh pet food or bagged kibble intended to be kinder on the budget. No matter the price point or market trend you want to hit, Silva has the vegetables, fruits, and herbs you need to catch consumers’ eyes and satisfy the tastes of even the fussiest of their furry friends.