United States-based refrigerated pet food company Freshpet is expanding their partnership with Tesco in the United Kingdom, reported Pet Gazette. Last year, Freshpet and Tesco began a pilot program that put Freshpet’s refrigerated pet food in 50 Tesco stores across Britain and Northern Ireland. The retailer will now expand their distribution of FreshPet to 300 of its stores nationwide in the UK.

Freshpet’s refrigerated wet pet foods will be sold from branded chiller cabinets in the pet aisle.

Why pet owners are buying more wet pet food

Executives at Bravo Pet Food and Holistic Health Extension told Petfood Industry that they believe demographics and demand trends favor continued growth in the wet pet food category. These pet food industry entrepreneurs shared their insights into how to innovate in the wet pet food category, and what drives its growth.

The present and future engines of pet food sales, millennials and baby boomers, increasingly tend towards owning cats or smaller dogs, like Chihuahuas, which can be fed wet pet food more affordably than a Saint Bernard. At the same time, pet food trends, including grain-free, raw and high-protein, lend themselves well to wet dog and cat food.

“Millennials inherently spend more money on their pets to ensure they are well fed,” said Brad Gruber, president and COO of Holistic Health Extension. “The real strength in growth in this category is driven by baby boomers, where spending is growing the most due to the number of households headed by this group.”

Wet pet food consumer demand trends

These pet owners’ preferences in wet pet food are largely following the same trends as the rest of the pet food industry, which in turn mirrors trends in human food. Gruber pointed out some of those trends, such as premium ingredients, local sourcing, customized recipes, weight loss and variety.

“There is an ongoing shift in consumer demand toward higher-quality, nutritionally sound foods,” said Bette Schubert, Bravo’s co-founder and senior vice president of sales. “As a result, we’re seeing a lot more products entering the all-natural space that are USA-made, grain-free, with meat and poultry ‘first’ and using clean, wholesome ingredients.”

With that consumer interest in quality and nutrition naturally comes a movement towards premium wet pet food. Schubert believes that as more pet owners realize how food choices influence their pets’ health, they will also tend to purchase more premium wet pet food. For example, a tangible improvement in a cat’s fur, or an obesity reduction, can convince a consumer that they got their money’s worth from a premium product.