If human trends are any indication of what to expect in pet
products, mature petfood markets like the US may be in for some
significant shifts as new products sync up with busy consumer
lifestyles. According to Simmons Market Research Bureau
consumer survey data, almost two-thirds of American adults are
trying to eat healthier foods these days, although this often
dictates compromises (Table 1).
Narrowing the survey responses to dog and cat owners, the
results remain remarkably similar, signaling an emerging trend
Packaged Facts believes will begin to reshape the US market in
This trend is analyzed in depth in Packaged Facts' February
Pet Food Packaging and Convenience Trends
, which notes, "Several factors are converging to create
dynamic opportunities for convenience, travel and portable
products." These include:
- Increasing time constraints among pet owners;
- A tendency to seek out human-style pet products;
- The aging pet population (which increases the need for
healthier products); and
- The high level of new product development.
Also fueling the convenience craze is the trend for pet
owners to allow their pets to accompany them outside the home,
venturing far beyond the parameters of the usual
What's different is that petfood convenience is no longer
just about products that are easy-open, resealable or
single-serve. Take SmartPak, which started out in the equine
market with controlled-dosing, peel-off-top, blister-pack
technology. The company has expanded into canine supplements
and complete diets, providing pre-measured dog food along with
medications and supplements, with customized packs being
home-delivered to dog owners every 28 days. Prior to making the
monthly shipment, the company E-mails the pet owner to check on
portion sizes and supplement specifications (among 300). Soon
to be available for cats, the service costs about US$1.48 per
day to feed a 20-pound dog.
Going a different route is Jakks Pacific. By licensing
popular petfood brand names like Milk-Bone and Meow Mix, Jakks
has made a name for itself by extending those brands into
non-food pet supplies.
In late 2007, the company made its first direct push into
petfood, parlaying its licensing deal with the American Kennel
Club into AKC-brand Natural Pet Baked Travel Convenience Meals.
Packed in "fresh sealed containers for everyday convenience,"
the products come with ready-to-use serving bowls.
The biggest news in convenience foods for pets may be what
Mars is calling a third feeding method. Developed through the
company's Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition and launched in the
US in February, WholeMeals are promoted as the first 100%
balanced adult dog meal shaped like a bone, also offering
clinically proven oral care benefits and trendy ingredients
like antioxidants and glucosamine. It is being sold exclusively
through the pet specialty channel.
Interestingly, in its marketing Mars makes no mention of
WholeMeals' convenience appeal, which may be the product's
biggest ace in the hole. What could be more convenient than a
petfood that eliminates the need for a bowl?