Pet owners’ growing awareness of nutrition, quality and safety led to the largest change in the pet food market over the past 10 years, according to James Restivo, director of client development at market research group Nielsen, in a video from Petfood Forum 2018.

Registration is now open for Petfood Forum 2019

“It's that discernment and education factor that's really made the difference and pet parents seem to be willing to pay for that difference,” he said. “Spend is up about 35 percent since 2006 on pet food, which is a interesting statistic when you think that inflation has grown by just about zero in that time.”

In the wake of the 2007 pet food recalls, pet owners increasingly demanded quality, with the need for USA-made and USA-sourced ingredients, Restivo said.

“That led to natural and grain-free,” he said.

Top factors consumers consider when buying pet food

Nielsen research led Restivo to conclude that the number one thing that pet owners consider when buying pet food is the underlying health and wellness of the animal itself. 

“So that means pet parents are becoming more and more aware of what they're giving their pet and more discerning in terms of what they're choosing,” he said.

Beyond marketing claims about products, consumers make decisions based on ingredient statements on pet food labels. As a result, one of the themes driving the pet food market is clean label. 

"As manufacturers are starting to take ingredients out of the products, we're seeing some growth in those products,” he said. “We're seeing things like natural, and we're seeing a rise in things that are artificial ingredient free.”

As for emerging trends, Restivo suggested that superfoods show promise.

“Think cranberries if you have a cat that has urinary tract challenges,” he said. “Manufacturers are putting cranberries in their just like on the human side. Even things like blueberries, kale and quinoa as plant-based diets start to enter the market place.”

About Petfood Forum events

To learn more about high-meat pet food and other trends attend Petfood Forum 2019. Petfood Forum is the not-to-be-missed trade show event for pet food professionals from around the world to network, exchange ideas and do business with one another and with the industry's leading pet food manufacturers and suppliers. Petfood Forum 2019 will take place at the Kansas City Convention Center in Kansas City, Missouri, USA on April 29 – May 1, 2019. Registration is now open for Petfood Forum 2019.