Petfood Industry predictions for 2013 and 2015 pointed to GMO-free ingredients becoming a growing trend in pet food.
A California initiative that would have required warning statements such as “may be partially produced with genetic engineering” on pet food labels of products that were not documented to be GMO-free (free of genetically modified organisms) was narrowly defeated in November 2012. But the grass-roots movement to require GMO labeling of foods was still growing at the time.
For 2015, the prediction was: “Just as in the human food world, organic, natural and GMO-free will be the key words for this trend of simplifying pet food.”
“The 2015 buzzword will probably be ‘naturality’ in every possible way, especially in mature markets,” SPF Market Trends Specialist Hélène Audic told Petfood Industry in 2014. “More than just what ‘limited additives and preservatives’ offer, pet owners aspire to go back to basics. The first position will be on the recipes with ‘wild’ brands and limited ingredient diets. Alternative technologies as freeze-dried, fresh food and raw frozen food will probably constitute the second one.”
A 2001 guidance document from the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) made clear that it objected to claims such as “no GMOs” and “GMO-free” on both food and feed labels (including those for pet foods). However, a recent change to the FDA document may alleviate some of the restrictions placed on pet food companies.
What's ahead in the new year for petfoods? A number of issues, both at the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Association of American Feed Control Officials(AAFCO) levels, seem to have lingered on for years. That's not terribly surprising, as by its nature the regulatory process is deliberate (i.e., slow).
The last few years have shaped the petfood industry in significant ways. Pet humanization has expanded the world of pet care, and premium products reflecting that trend are having their time in the spotlight. Uncertain economies have led to plateaus in the growth of mature markets, while developing markets continue to gain ground through their growing consumer bases.
New shelter data casts doubt on whether the pet population and pet ownership are truly growing.
While the pandemic caused unprecedented suffering worldwide in 2020, the disruptions to dogs, cats and other pets adoption numbers may normalize in 2021.