Sponsored by ADM Animal Nutrition
For nearly 30 years, pet owners have been bombarded with the message that dogs and cats should not be fed soy, corn or wheat because these ingredients are unhealthy, cheap, non-nutritive fillers. Some of us can remember the marketing campaigns of the 1990’s that unfairly disparaged these legacy ingredients with misinformation that was designed to create points of differentiation with competitive products. Today, the pendulum of public opinion is swinging back to a positive view of soy, corn and wheat for pets based on recent consumer research.
Three independent consumer surveys conducted by ADM revealed 80% of today’s U.S. pet owners are intentionally seeking or open to soy, corn or wheat in their pet’s food and treats (Figure 1). While 20% of today’s pet owners are still avoiding these ingredients, they do not represent the majority of pet parents. This is welcomed news for pet food nutritionists and formulators who have long recognized the excellent nutritional and functional properties of these legacy ingredients for pets, foods and treats. This changing paradigm also provides more opportunities for manufacturers to develop pet products that mimic human foods and snacks due to the popularity and widespread use of these ingredients in the human food industry.
Based on survey results, today’s pet parents are seeking or open to soy, corn and wheat for their pets because they recognize and desire the nutritional and health benefits these ingredients provide to their pet (Table 1). Flavor and digestibility aspects of these ingredients were also listed as key motivators for choosing pet products with these ingredient as well as recommendations from their veterinarian.
To understand the appeal of different ingredients for pet foods and treats, the survey participants were presented with lists of various soy, corn and wheat based ingredients and asked the question: Thinking about ingredients in your pet’s food... When you’re buying your pet’s food and look at the ingredients label, how appealing would it be to see the following (soy/corn/wheat) ingredients listed on the label? 1 = not at all appealing; 5 = very appealing. The ranking of the individual ingredients from the most appealing to the least appealing is shown in Table 2.
Corn, ground corn and corn meal are the most appealing of the corn-based ingredients, while corn oil, corn germ meal, corn gluten meal and corn syrup are the least appealing. Corn protein concentrate, corn grits and corn bran are intermediate in their appeal to the survey participants. Wheat, ground wheat, wheat flour, buckwheat flour and wheat bran are the most appealing wheat ingredients. In contrast, wheat shorts and wheat middlings are the least appealing. Wheat germ meal, vital wheat gluten and wheat germ oil are intermediate in their appeal, but generally trend towards the least appealing of the wheat ingredients. For the soy-based ingredients, soy protein concentrate, soy flour and textured soy protein are most appealing, while soybean grits and soybean hulls are least appealing. Soybean meal and soy protein isolate are intermediate in their appeal to today’s pet parents.
The survey results clearly show 4 out of 5 pet parents are willing to purchase pet foods and treats containing soy, corn or wheat with certain products being more appealing than others. Today’s pet owners recognize the nutritional and health benefits these ingredients provide to their dogs and cats. The old misleading marketing messages that mischaracterized these legacy ingredients are no longer resonating with today’s pet parents.
In order to remain relevant with today’s pet owners, pet food manufacturers must recognize and respond to the desires of today’s pet parents as indicated in the ADM surveys. Pet food manufacturers who automatically dismiss soy, corn or wheat in their products will be missing a significant set of today’s pet owners. Failure to embrace this changing paradigm will find these manufacturers out of touch with more of today’s pet parents and future ones.
At ADM, we have the industry’s most comprehensive portfolio of pet food and treat ingredients which includes a variety of soy, corn and wheat products. These ingredients provide the nutritional and functional needs for your products. They also ensure your products are meeting the desires and expectations of today’s pet parents. When you partner with ADM as your nutrition solution provider, you also gain access to our team of scientists, engineers and nutrition experts that can help you solve today’s problem and develop tomorrow’s innovation.
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