At Interzoo 2018, Interzoo organizer WZF (Wirtschaftsgemeinschaft Zoologischer Fachbetriebe GmbH, a service provider for the pet industry) launched the “Interzoo Sustainability Initiative” and commissioned the Sustainable Transformation Lab of the Antwerp School of Management (AMS) to carry out a survey on the current and future importance of sustainability in the international pet supplies industry. A few weeks before, and during and after the fair, Interzoo exhibitors received a questionnaire to document their experiences and activities relating to sustainability; trade visitors were asked for their opinions in a visitor poll. On the basis of the survey, the sustainability experts from the AMS analyzed the specific characteristics and relevance of sustainability in the pet supplies industry and identified and documented best practices.

The preliminary interim results from the exhibitor survey published in May 2018 were confirmed in the final analysis of the complete exhibitor and visitor survey. For 80 percent of the industry players polled, sustainability is very or extremely important in the next three years, for their own companies and for the industry as a whole. While 57 percent of respondents are convinced that their own company has already made important progress with sustainability, only 36 percent believed that the sector as a whole had made advances in sustainability.

According to the survey, attempts by companies to be more sustainable focus primarily on customers. For 38 percent of those polled, customer requirements are the most important driver of sustainability measures. Ranked second (at 22 percent) are a company's values or corporate philosophy as motivation for stepping up sustainability activities.

The survey indicated that the possible reasons why companies are not committing (yet) to more sustainability are above all the costs of implementing such measures (74 percent) and lack of government incentives (69 percent), as well as a lack of awareness in the industry (67 percent). WZF aims to raise this awareness with the help of Interzoo as a global platform for ground-breaking trends in the pet supplies sector. This is why during Interzoo 2018 the preliminary interim results of the survey were already being presented and discussed. In a presentation by Swiss sustainability expert Dr Dorothea Baur, exhibitors and visitors had the opportunity to get information and discuss approaches. WZF believes that this was a first important milestone towards increasing transparency and awareness of sustainability in the sector.

A total of 355 companies from 69 countries took part in this first industry-wide research project for the pet supplies sector. 60 percent of those polled were Interzoo visitors and around 40 percent exhibitors. Of the companies that took part, 62 percent are based in Europe, 9 percent of them in Germany. The survey was conducted by WZF in partnership with the experts from the Sustainable Transformation Lab at the Antwerp School of Management (AMS). The Sustainable Transformation Lab is a center of expertise that helps companies in their transition to becoming more sustainable and in doing so proposes new approaches to dealing with global social, economic and ecological challenges. [link: https://www.antwerpmanagementschool.be/en/research/expertise-center-sustainable-transformation/]

The detailed analysis of the survey with the most important results on the topic of sustainability in the pet supplies industry will be completed by the end of the year. Extracts from it will also be published in the next Interzoo newsletter. Interzoo exhibitors and visitors are welcome to continue to submit their questions and feedback on the sustainability initiative by emailing to sustainability@interzoo.com.