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  • Adventures in Petfood

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    Debbie Phillips-Donaldson, editor-in-chief of Petfood Industry, shares her insights and opinions on all things petfood, addressing market trends as well as news and developments in pet nutrition, food safety and other hot topics for the industry.

    Is petfood packaging and branding ripe for innovation and fun?

    Aug 13, 2014 By Debbie Phillips-Donaldson

    The natural petfood category has become very “me too” in its packaging and branding. Does it need an injection of humor and innovation? ..Read more

    Investments in petfood companies continue, highlighting market’s strength

    Aug 5, 2014 By Debbie Phillips-Donaldson

    Petfood remains a good investment, both for companies already in the industry and outside private equity firms making a stake in the pet care market ..Read more

    New petfood consumers: what US Millennials are looking for

    Jul 29, 2014 By Debbie Phillips-Donaldson

    Millennial pet owners respond to functional petfood messaging, research shows, such as “scientifically formulated” and “real meat” ..Read more

    US petfood market benefits from (and contributes to) positive consumer trends

    Jul 22, 2014 By Debbie Phillips-Donaldson

    Robust petfood and pet care sales could be playing a considerable role in fast-moving consumer goods overall showing any type of US retail increases ..Read more

    Raw petfood warnings define growing market too broadly, poorly

    Jul 14, 2014 By Debbie Phillips-Donaldson

    Warnings about raw petfood tend to lump all raw pet diets under one very vague, uninformed definition ..Read more

    US pet retailers report sales growth, optimism

    Jul 2, 2014 By Debbie Phillips-Donaldson

    US pet retailers reported over 6% sales growth from 2011-2013, a positive sign for the petfood industry, including a 5% increase in natural pet products ..Read more

    Does fate of pet jerky treats rest with the marketplace?

    Jun 20, 2014 By Debbie Phillips-Donaldson

    Consumers are probably justified in being wary of buying food, petfood or pet treats sourced from China. ..Read more

    Brazil’s dynamic petfood market takes the world stage

    Jun 16, 2014 By Debbie Phillips-Donaldson

    Brazil is the fastest growing pet market globally and is now the second largest petfood market (behind the US), according to Euromonitor ..Read more

    Petfood trends at Interzoo: grain free, BARF and insects

    Jun 4, 2014 By Debbie Phillips-Donaldson

    Last week’s Interzoo, the 33rd edition of the largest pet trade show in the world, saw not only increased numbers from the last edition in 2012 but also hundreds of new petfood products. Grain free petfoods were ubiquitous, and BARF (biologically appropriate raw foods) and similar fresh-meat products abounded, too. ..Read more

    Insights for petfood in US consumers’ focus on ‘healthfulness’

    May 20, 2014 By Debbie Phillips-Donaldson

    A new survey on US consumers’ choices in human foods could have implications for the petfood industry, particularly in how these consumers are focusing on “healthfulness,” the sources they trust for nutrition information, their level of confidence in food safety and the information they seek on product labels. Some of the findings are good news, some not so great. ..Read more

    Dog food apps to help consumers control pets’ weight

    May 15, 2014 By Debbie Phillips-Donaldson

    Pet obesity is a steadily rising problem in the US and other developed markets; according to the latest study from the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), 52.6% of US dogs and 57.6% of US cats are overweight or obese. Fortunately, apps are available to help pet owners trying to control their furry loved ones’ weight. ..Read more

    Purina and Blue Buffalo wage petfood marketing claims war

    May 8, 2014 By Debbie Phillips-Donaldson

    In suing Blue Buffalo Co. this week over false and disparaging advertising claims, Nestlé Purina PetCare threw down the gauntlet in terms of competitive marketing claims. Does Purina have a case – and perhaps more significant, if it does, could this be just the first step in a sea change in how petfoods are labeled and marketed? (Not to mention formulated.) ..Read more

    Petfood industry could learn from new study on GMO labeling mandates

    Apr 29, 2014 By Debbie Phillips-Donaldson

    As yet another US state considers mandating labeling of food products with information on inclusion of ingredients that have been genetically modified (otherwise known as GMOs), a new paper looks at the potential impact—positive and negative—of such mandates. The latest state jumping into the GMO labeling debate is Vermont. Its legislature recently passed a bill that would make it the first state to require mandatory labeling of any foods containing ingredients that had been “genetically engineered.” The governor is expected to soon sign it into law. ..Read more

    Who influences pet owners’ petfood purchasing decisions?

    Apr 21, 2014 By Debbie Phillips-Donaldson

    US dog owners are most likely to received petfood recommendations from their veterinarians, followed by a friend or family member, then a pet store, according to the GfK PetInsights Study. While this is not a surprise, the study, presented on during Petfood Forum Asia 2014 by Pushan Tagore, director of pet nutrition services for GfK's Animal Health division, revealed some interesting insights on who and what influences the petfood purchasing decisions for US pet owners. ..Read more

    Mars-P&G petfood deal a surprise on some levels

    Apr 15, 2014 By Debbie Phillips-Donaldson

    Last week’s big news that Mars Inc. had agreed to buy 80% of Procter & Gamble’s petfood business was and wasn’t a surprise. Everyone knew P&G was eager to sell its petfood brands (Iams, Eukanuba and Natura); CEO A.G. Lafley said as much over six months ago, when he told analysts the company was looking to off-load its under-performing business units. While he named no specific units at the time, he did say it would involve products that, combined, represented less than 10% of P&G sales, and that definitely included the petfood brands. ..Read more

    Petfood Forum 2014 by the numbers

    Apr 4, 2014 By Debbie Phillips-Donaldson

    The global petfood industry wrapped up another Petfood Forum and Petfood Workshop this week. A lot happened in three days, so perhaps it’s best to sum up the conferences with a list of noteworthy (and somewhat random) numbers. ..Read more

    Developed petfood markets tackle common pet obesity problem in various ways

    Mar 25, 2014 By Debbie Phillips-Donaldson

    The US and the UK share the distinction of being among the largest and most mature petfood markets globally. Unfortunately, they also share a problem that's becoming all too common in developed markets: pet obesity. How these various markets approach the issue makes for an interesting study. ..Read more

    Global Pet Expo news: petfood spending, natural cat treats, superfoods

    Mar 19, 2014 By Debbie Phillips-Donaldson

    At Global Pet Expo 2014 (GPE), held last week in Orlando, Florida, USA, the story was all about growth: Overall US pet care spending is projected to grow nearly 5% this year, topping out at US$58.5 billion, according to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), organizer of the show. Of that, US petfood spending is expected to reach US$22.62 billion by the end of 2014 after increasing 4.5% in 2013 to a total of US$21.57 billion, APPA said. ..Read more

    Will “natural” petfood claims ever be regulated?

    Mar 11, 2014 By Debbie Phillips-Donaldson

    When a group of petfood, feed and human food organizations announced their new GMO-related initiative, the Coalition for Safe Affordable Food, in February, nearly lost amid the news was this reason given for forming the coalition and pushing for US federal legislation on GMOs (genetically modified organisms): so the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would define the term "natural" for its use on food and beverage products so human food and beverage companies and consumers have a consistent legal framework for food labels while informing consumer choice. ..Read more

    FDA: get your petfood safety facts straight

    Mar 5, 2014 By Debbie Phillips-Donaldson

    "Most petfood is safe, but sometimes petfood and treats can become contaminated with bacteria that can not only make your pet sick, but you sick." That's one of the first few statements in a video recently released by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) called "Pet Food and Treats in Your Home." The narrator, Dr. April Hodges a nutritional scientist with FDA, goes on to say, "Salmonella is one of the best known bacteria that can be found in petfood or on pet treats, but it's not the only one." OK, stop right there, Dr. Hodges.  ..Read more

    Del Monte – er, Big Heart – takes next step in focus on petfood

    Feb 25, 2014 By Debbie Phillips-Donaldson

    What’s in a name? Perhaps a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, to paraphrase the Bard, but in the hypercompetitive petfood market, does a name like Big Heart Pet Brands have what it takes to lead and even dominate? ..Read more

    US petfood ingredient regulatory process faces uncertain future

    Feb 20, 2014 By Debbie Phillips-Donaldson

    One of most common questions I get from media and people outside our industry is about how petfoods and ingredients are regulated, particularly in the US. This has been a recurring question ever since the 2007 melamine-related recalls and continuing through more recent Salmonella-related recalls, passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and, most recently, the release of proposed preventive control rules for feed and petfood under FSMA. ..Read more

    Petfood, human food industries get proactive with new GMO coalition

    Feb 12, 2014 By Debbie Phillips-Donaldson

    A new US coalition aims to get ahead of GMO related legislation, uncertainty and confusion – and, while not the first of its kind, this effort directly involves petfood and feed organizations, in addition to human food groups. The Coalition for Safe Affordable Food (CSAF), announced last week, currently comprises 31 organizations, including the Pet Food Institute (PFI), American Feed Industry Association and National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA). ..Read more

    Petfood companies need to define sustainability for their markets

    Feb 6, 2014 By Debbie Phillips-Donaldson

    In yet another trends list for the year (and yes, I’m guilty of issuing one of those lists, too), Leslie May, founder of Pawsible Marketing, identifies one of the top trends for the pet industry as “quality, healthy, made in the US, green, eco-friendly.” Whew! That one trend covers a lot of ground. But I agree with May that the general concept that pet owners increasingly are seeking pet products, including petfood, that they believe are healthier for their pets and the planet. ..Read more

    Petfood volume flat in 2013, new feed survey shows

    Jan 29, 2014 By Debbie Phillips-Donaldson

    The volume of petfood produced globally in 2013 grew less than 1% over 2012, from 20.5 million tons to 20.7 million, according to the just released 2014 Alltech Global Feed Survey. That's slightly less than the 1% growth reported for production of feed for all species, from 954 million tons in 2012 to 963 million in 2013. Petfood makes up only about 2% of that global total. ..Read more

    First petfood M&A deal of 2014 portends more to come

    Jan 22, 2014 By Debbie Phillips-Donaldson

    The petfood and pet care industries have been a hotbed of merger and acquisition (M&A) activity for several years now; in fact, even during the recession, that activity picked up, unlike in most other industries. Thus, last week's announcement that Nestlé Purina PetCare had acquired Zuke's Performance Pet Nutrition, a maker of natural, functional treats, came as no real surprise to anyone in or watching our industry. ..Read more

    Petfood quality, pet health top purchasing drivers, mirroring human food trends

    Jan 15, 2014 By Debbie Phillips-Donaldson

    A new survey of dog owners by a UK-based pet supplies website shows the quality of petfood outweighs costs for many pet parents, echoing ongoing premiumization in the US petfood market and mirroring purchasing drivers for human food. Conducted online by GJW Titmuss from October to December 2013 and responded to by 675 dog owners, the survey showed 61% of the owners consider quality the most important factor when choosing a dog food, versus only 9% choosing cost.  ..Read more

    Media perpetuating petfood safety myths, misconceptions

    Jan 8, 2014 By Debbie Phillips-Donaldson

    Another day/month/year, another media report on petfood safety with misleading, out-of-context or downright inaccurate information. Since the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released the proposed preventive control rule for animal feed (including petfood) in late October as part of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), it's been big news throughout mainstream media. Unfortunately, it's difficult to see how some of the news being disseminated is at all helpful to pet owners, let alone the petfood industry. ..Read more

    Looking into the 2014 petfood crystal ball

    Dec 18, 2013 By Debbie Phillips-Donaldson

    I don't really have a crystal ball (and I probably wouldn't trust it if I had one). Nor can I claim to predict, with full confidence, what will happen in the global petfood industry next year. But I can make a fairly informed speculation about the issues and events that may affect petfood in 2014. In no particular order of conviction or chronology: ..Read more

    Petfood industry can help shape FSMA preventive control rule

    Dec 11, 2013 By Debbie Phillips-Donaldson

    While the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) overall and, specifically, its recently proposed preventive control rule for animal feed represent a paradigm shift in how petfood will be regulated, the petfood industry has a rare -- if rushed -- opportunity to have a say in how the final rule will read. Yes, believe it or not, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) wants your input. ..Read more

    How global business leaders view sustainability, including consumer influence

    Dec 4, 2013 By Debbie Phillips-Donaldson

    "You can't compartmentalize sustainability anymore everything is interrelated." So said Richard Edelman, CEO of his namesake public relations firm, as part of the "UN Global Compact Accenture CEO Study on Sustainability 2013," conducted by the United Nations and Accenture (a ..Read more

    2014 human food trends that could affect petfood

    Nov 25, 2013 By Debbie Phillips-Donaldson

    At last week's Food Ingredients Europe in Frankfurt, Germany, an annual show described by organizer's as the "global meeting place for all stakeholders in the food ingredients industry," Innova Market Insights introduced its top 10 food and beverage trends for 2014. While not all apply to petfood (and only five of the 10 included descriptions), some might be worth considering for petfood manufacturers and marketers. ..Read more

    Snapshot of petfood ingredient market shows ongoing growth

    Nov 19, 2013 By Debbie Phillips-Donaldson

    A report on the global animal feed ingredients market released last week offers a few tidbits of data and information regarding petfood ingredients, with the highlight that the overall market as well as the segment that includes companion animal food are both growing strongly. That growth is projected to continue at a compound annual rate of 5% to 7.5% through 2019. ..Read more

    Study: How petfood purchasing decisions are influenced by packaging, retail channel

    Nov 13, 2013 By Debbie Phillips-Donaldson

    A study of US pet owners on how and where they shop for petfood offers some interesting insights for professionals in charge of petfood marketing and packaging design, perhaps even for large companies that have the resources to conduct their own consumer research. ..Read more

    Petfood not a factor after all in latest non-GMO legislative failure

    Nov 6, 2013 By Debbie Phillips-Donaldson

    A ballot initiative to require many foods and beverages that contain genetically modified ingredients sold in the state of Washington to carry labels failed to pass during November 5 elections, with 55% of voters opposed to the measure. Though earlier news reports claimed petfood was being used as an example by both supporters and opponents of the initiative, petfood-related debates seemed to fade down the stretch, replaced by arguments over cost, health benefits and labeling of human foods. And unlike with a similar proposed law in California last year that was also defeated, petfood industry organizations appeared not to engage in the Washington battle with either words or money. ..Read more

    Release of FSMA petfood preventive control rule had curious timing

    Oct 30, 2013 By Debbie Phillips-Donaldson

    It would be a stretch to say that US petfood manufacturers welcomed last week's release, finally, of the proposed feed/petfood preventive control rule under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). Complying to the new regulations, once the final version is released next year, will require significant investments by some manufacturers. Yet after months--actually, years--of waiting to see these specific rules that apply to feed and petfood, at least the industry finally knows exactly what it's facing. ..Read more

    Reaction to jerky pet treat report proves consumers are still wary, worried

    Oct 24, 2013 By Debbie Phillips-Donaldson

    The US Food an Drug Administration (FDA)'s release this week of an update on the investigation into illnesses related to chicken jerky pet treats really blew up on the Internet and social media. While one of FDA's intentions in issuing the update was to ask veterinarians for information on such illnesses they have treated, what mainstream and social media seized on and emphasized were the numbers: more than 3,000 complaints, over 3,600 dogs affected (plus 10 cats) and more than 580 deaths. ..Read more

    Del Monte making big push to expand petfood share

    Oct 16, 2013 By Debbie Phillips-Donaldson

    Del Monte's announcement last week that it was divesting its human canned food business to focus on its petfood products was quite a bombshell -- at least for me, from both a personal and professional level. As a consumer growing up in the US at the tail end of the Baby Boomer generation, I have always regarded Del Monte as one of those iconic food companies. ..Read more

    Is US pet specialty distributor consolidation affecting petfood?

    Oct 9, 2013 By Debbie Phillips-Donaldson

    Recent news that Phillips Pet Food & Supplies is exploring a sale of the company, as reported by Reuters.com, may further consolidate an already rapidly compressing pet specialty distribution channel in the US. What does this mean for the distribution and retailing of petfood? ..Read more

    Petfood and GMO legislation cross paths again

    Oct 3, 2013 By Debbie Phillips-Donaldson

    While the US federal government shutdown may threaten legislative-related activity, such as the pending release of the preventive control rule for feed (including petfood) under the Food Safety Modernization Act, plenty of things are still happening at the state and local level. For example, a proposed law on the ballot for November 5 elections in Washington state that would require labeling of genetically modified foods is causing a war of words that has ensnared petfood. ..Read more

    Finished product testing a hot petfood safety topic

    Sep 26, 2013 By Debbie Phillips-Donaldson

    Should petfood manufacturers regularly test their finished products for Salmonella, holding them in inventory until test results return? And should that testing be mandated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as part of the new preventive control rule for feed soon to be released under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)? ..Read more

    What sustainability means to consumers (and what that means for petfood)

    Sep 18, 2013 By Debbie Phillips-Donaldson

    Sustainability has become a buzz word in marketing and other circles; it is also a concept that is resonating more with the petfood and human food industries as we struggle to find sustainable sources of protein and other ingredients to feed the growing number of people in the world (not to mention their growing number of pets). And we often hear that many consumers seek brands and products that follow or support sustainable practices. But what exactly does that mean? ..Read more

    Petfood executives urge industry to share food safety practices, contact lawmakers

    Sep 12, 2013 By Debbie Phillips-Donaldson

    "Food safety is not proprietary," declared Mike Hayes, director of food safety and quality for Del Monte and a speaker during "Petfood Insights: New Approaches to Quality & Technology." The symposium took place September 10-11 in Memphis, Tennessee, USA (yes, Elvis was sighted) and was hosted by Kemin. ..Read more

    Alternative protein sources for petfood: are insects the answer?

    Sep 4, 2013 By Debbie Phillips-Donaldson

    Increasing humanization of pets around the world -- even in China, a small (but rapidly growing) pet market, 90% of pet owners say their pets are part of the family, according to Mars Petcare China -- means rising numbers of pet owners who want and expect to feed their pets products similar to the types of food products they're seeking for themselves. When it comes to protein sources, that translates to seeking "human grade" meats, poultry or fish and shunning any ingredients perceived as lesser quality, such as meat or poultry by-products or meals. Petfood manufacturers have understandably responded to these consumer demands. So everyone should be happy, right? ..Read more

    China pet care market growing rapidly

    Aug 27, 2013 By Debbie Phillips-Donaldson

    The global pet care market will reach US$96 billion in sales by the end of this year, reported Clarissa Nicklaus, senior research analyst for Euromonitor International, during Petfood Forum China 2013 last week. With the market growing 4% annually each year since 2008, that means it could top the US$100 billion mark in 2014. Petfood makes up 77% of the global market, Nicklaus said, meaning sales will hit nearly US$74 billion this year. ..Read more

    Do you have insights to share with petfood industry professionals?

    Aug 14, 2013 By Debbie Phillips-Donaldson

    If you have new research findings, deep knowledge or experience on a specific aspect of petfood manufacturing or marketing, why not share it with your peers in the petfood industry? Consider submitting an abstract to present at Petfood Forum 2014 or Petfood Forum Asia 2014. ..Read more

    Human food trend that petfood should not follow: ignoring FSMA

    Aug 7, 2013 By Debbie Phillips-Donaldson

    Since the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was signed into law in January 2011, I have seen reactions in our industry ranging from approval to grudging acceptance to complaints to anxiety. I have even heard anecdotes about a few, mainly smaller petfood or treat manufacturers who say they do not have the time or resources to comply with the law and its regulations, so they plan to just ignore it. ..Read more

    New research benefits pets, people and pet industry

    Jul 31, 2013 By Debbie Phillips-Donaldson

    While some issues arising from last week's American Veterinary Medical Association conference -- like whether veterinarians receive enough education on pet nutrition -- might spur controversy, I think everyone can agree that research on the benefits of the human-pet bond, presented during the accompanying conference of the International Association of Human-Animal Interaction Organizations (IAHAIO), is a positive development for pets, people and the pet industry. ..Read more

    Veterinarians trying to learn more about pet nutrition

    Jul 24, 2013 By Debbie Phillips-Donaldson

    "You know more about nutrition than you think you do." That was one of the messages Jennifer A. Larsen, DVM, PhD, DACVN, professor of clinical nutrition with the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at the University of California-Davis, imparted to her audience during the American Veterinary Medical Association's annual convention, taking place in Chicago this past weekend through today. ..Read more

    Latest human food trends parallel petfood trends (or vice versa)

    Jul 17, 2013 By Debbie Phillips-Donaldson

    Petfood product development follows human food trends by only "half a step," said David Sprinkle, research director and publisher with Packaged Facts, during a Petfood Forum 2013 presentation. That was just three months ago; judging by information presented at the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Annual Meeting and Food Expo this week, I am beginning to think that perhaps petfood has already caught up and is marching in lock step with human food in many areas. ..Read more


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