Everyone in the world who has anything to do with the pet industry converged on Nuremberg, Germany, the week of May 10—or at least that’s how it seemed.

Actually, more than 38,000 pet trade visitors from 117 countries attended Interzoo 2010, according to its organizers, in addition to 1,052 companies from 53 countries exhibiting their products for cats, dogs, small mammals, birds, fish and reptiles or supplies for companies manufacturing those products. Those numbers represented a 3% increase in attendees and a 4% increase in exhibitors over the 2008 event (the show occurs every two years).

A large portion  of the stands displayed petfood. According to the online exhibitor directory (www.interzoo.com), 343 exhibitors had dog or cat food products—including both of the only petfood manufacturers in Turkey (Lider and Tropikal) and one from South Africa—with nearly half as many (150) offering food for small animals. Another 50+ stands had petfood supplies (ingredients, equipment, packaging materials and the like). Having carried me to most of these stands, my sore feet could attest to the many offerings from petfood manufacturers and suppliers!

Yet what I didn’t see was much in the way of innovation in foods or treats. Yes, recent trends—natural/organic, unique proteins, functional, health and wellness, packaging improvements—continued to reign, but none of those are really new. My observation seemed to be shared by several other petfood professionals; one speculated that because of the recession, many companies, especially the major petfood players, put development of breakthrough products on hold.

However, I did come across a few new twists on recent trends:

  • Unique protein sources—how about tripe? That’s the main ingredient in a new wet dog food called Nutripe, from Valour Pets of Singapore;
  • Functional ingredients—Bacterfield SA of Luxembourg introduced Probiotic Live, which it said is the first dry dog food to keep probiotics live and stable; and
  • Packaging—Valpet of Italy launched a new dry cat food, an extension of its Dado brand, in a “smart brick” carton that it touted as eco-friendly.

As financial crises  and high unemployment continue in some countries, the fact that Interzoo and most other pet trade shows this year (including Petfood Forum) have enjoyed growth and a generally positive buzz means good news for our industry. This is supported by healthy growth and projections for US pet specialty retailers highlighted in the “State of the Industry Report 2009-2010” in the Pet Product News International 2011 Annual Directory & Buying Guide (www.petproductnews.com).

According to the report, 3 4% of US retailers surveyed said their 2009 sales increased over 2008; 28% reported their sales remained the same, an improvement over the 19% who maintained sales in 2008. Perhaps even better, 54% of the retailers said they expected sales to grow again this year, with 32% maintaining current sales. The survey showed, too, that fewer US pet stores closed last year, dropping to only 2% (from 5% in 2008).

Watch videos of petfood stands at Interzoo 2010.