At Petfood Forum, as at many events, some of the most important discussions happen informally among professionals who encounter each other in hallways, elevators or at hotel bars and strike up a conversation. During Petfood Forum 2021 in September, those discussions are even more likely as people in the industry reconnect—in person, rather than through a computer screen or cell phone—for the first time in more than two years.
From what my colleagues and I are hearing, many people are excited to meet again in Kansas City, Missouri, USA. (We will definitely miss all the people unable to travel then. At least they can take advantage of an on-demand version of Petfood Forum starting the following week.) What will the conversations at Petfood Forum be about? I’ll go into it with my eyes and ears open for:
Signs of the supply chain starting to improve. Or, I hope to learn how pet food manufacturers and suppliers are handling disruptions in transportation, labor and supply of ingredients and other materials. Some experts have predicted these challenges will continue into the first quarter of 2022—will surges in cases of COVID-19, driven by the Delta variant, extend the disruptions further into next year?
Whether the industry is preparing for future crises. It’s safe to say no one, in any industry, was completely prepared for the upheavals caused by COVID-19 or even some of the resulting changes in consumer behavior. Yet there are steps companies can and should take to plan for similar crises. A Petfood Forum session will offer tips, while others will provide updates on the current mindsets of pet owners.
What companies are doing to expand their workforce. Well before 2020, many pet food manufacturers and suppliers were struggling to fill open positions with knowledgeable experts as their businesses grew and key personnel retired. The Petfood Forum Student Program is designed in part to help companies fill their talent pipeline; what other steps can they take?
Rumors of more pet food mergers and acquisitions (M&A). M&A activity in pet food slowed only slightly in 2020 and has since picked up steam, with about 25 announced in 2021 as of press time. How many more are in the works?
Above all, I’m looking forward to seeing familiar faces and meeting new people at Petfood Forum. I can’t wait!
Debbie Phillips-Donaldson is editor-in-chief of Petfood Industry and Petfood Forum.
By Lindsay Beaton
Those in the supplements space are answering consumer calls for functionality, traceability, and simple education on what’s right for their pets.
By Lindsay Beaton
Healthy M&A activity as well as expanded production capacity investments helped pet food companies continue to grow in 2021.