Pet food product trends and positioning claims
In the pet food market, trends are defined by positive and negative attributes.
In the pet food market, as in the processed food market for humans, product trends are defined by positive and negative ("free-of") attributes, variously embodied in brand/product names, product formulations and flavor varieties, product information and positioning claims, and packaging choices and imagery. This flows from the duality that while the core pet food function of nourishment is positive, commercial food processing inherently triggers concerns about product integrity. And even the core nourishment function is hardly without its quandaries, as evident in the coexistence of caveman and culinary enthusiasms, of grain-free alongside ancient grain product varieties.
The sets of attributes that make for successful products morph over time, and not necessarily neatly or even coherently, in keeping with the untidiness of consumer attitudes and behaviors. That caveat notwithstanding, natural-positioned products are firmly at the core of pet food trends, especially in the specialty pet channel. A Packaged Facts survey in February/March 2016 showed 48% of pet owners agreeing that natural/organic brand pet products are often better than standard products, a percentage up markedly from 38% in an August 2012. The recent survey also showed 54% of pet owners placing a “high priority” on buying pet food with natural ingredients.
Natural, organic and related product claims are, correspondingly, among the most important and effective in the pet food market. In a November/December 2015 Packaged Facts survey, 26% of dog owners and 20% of cat owners indicated that they currently buy natural (other than organic) pet food formulations (see Table 1).