It’s not news that people love their pets. In fact, humans have been keeping pets (and being buried with them) since ancient times. Whether it’s a dog, a cat, a fish, or a gerbil, we welcome them into our home and they become part of the family. And the more our pets have become like family members, the more we have invested in feeding them well. In recent years, a wave of innovation and transformation in the pet food industry has seen new products emerge that are healthier, more sustainably produced, and more in line with our personal beliefs.
Current and Upcoming Trends in Pet Food
The pet food industry must continually evolve to meet the changing demands of pet owners who themselves have evolving tastes and preferences. In the same way people read labels to find out what they’re eating, for example, they also want to know what their pets are eating. Pet owners have become increasingly choosy about brands, flavors, and the kinds of processes involved in manufacturing the food. Below are some examples of current and upcoming trends for pet food (and never it hurts to compare to previous trends):
- Natural ingredients: Although all ingredients are ultimately derived from “natural” sources, there has been a major shift toward minimally processed and whole foods because of their perceived health benefits. Pet owners are similarly concerned about the potential side effects of foods that rely heavily on synthetic or artificial additives, and this has led to more and more pet food options that are labeled as natural.
- Alternative proteins: Just as the demand for plant-based proteins has increased for human food, pet owners are seeking alternative proteins for their dogs and cats. Part of this motivation comes from concerns about the sustainability of animal agriculture, and part of it comes from a belief that alternative proteins are healthier. Besides just plants, though, pet food has also expanded to non-traditional animals (like kangaroos!) and insects. These alternatives are also emerging as options for dogs with specific allergies.
- Sustainable sourcing: Pet owners are also becoming more conscious of the environmental and ethical impact of pet food production. Brands that prioritize the sustainable sourcing of ingredients and ethical treatment of animals are now much more common.
- Limited ingredient diet: One trend that aligns closely with the desire for healthy and natural pet food options is the limited ingredient diet. Though initially used as a technique for identifying food allergies, it has become an increasingly popular category of food. The diet typically involves limiting what a dog eats to a single protein and a single carbohydrate (like sweet potatoes). This minimizes the chances of allergic reactions, but it also can be an overall healthy option for some dogs.
- Personalization: Many pet owners have begun turning to custom dog food blends that are tailored to a pet's specific nutritional needs and preferences. Pet owners can find customized formulas based on factors like breed, age, size, and health conditions. In an age where owners treat their pets like members of the family, personalized pet food is the ultimate splurge.
- Functional: “Functional” pet food refers to food options that incorporate ingredients that are rich in compounds like prebiotics, probiotics, and antioxidants. Rather than just being “healthy” in a general way, functional pet food aims to address specific health concerns in the same way as functional human food; for example, many vegetable ingredients have compounds that are known to improve things like dental health, coat glossiness, heart health, and energy levels.
- Sensory experience: Most pets don’t have nearly the number of taste buds as humans, so subtle taste variations wouldn’t be noticeable. But what dogs, for instance, lack in taste buds, they more than make up for in scent. This fact is why some pet food manufacturers have begun focusing more on the sensory experience of pet food, considering features like texture and aroma along with taste to make meals more appealing to pets.
- Grain alternatives: Some pet owners, out of concern for their pet’s health and potential allergies, have shifted toward grain-free or alternative-grain pet foods. So rather than wheat, for example, rice, green peas, or oats may be combined with a protein. This shift is partially motivated by the idea that dogs should eat a diet that more closely resembles that of their wolf ancestors, but there is no substantial evidence to date that such a diet is actually preferable.
Pet Food Ingredients from Silva
Regardless of the trend in question, pet owners of all types will naturally want the best for their fur babies. And the best pet food starts with the best ingredients. At Silva, we are dedicated to providing high quality ingredients that are both good for you and for your pets. Our advanced processing facilities allow us to maintain the absolute highest standards for quality and food safety. But even beyond offering excellent products, we are also passionate about partnering with you to develop new and exciting recipes that your customers will love. To learn more about Silva and our good-for-you promise, contact us today.