Contrary to many pet food industry professionals’ beliefs, pet owners may not trust natural pet food any more than conventional, mass-market diets.

To learn empirical information about pet food consumer demand trends, attend Petfood Forum 2019 or other Petfood Industry events worldwide.

People employed in the dog, cat and other pet food industry believed that a strong majority of pet owners considered natural and organic pet food to be more trustworthy. However, market researchers found that most U.S. pet owners were ambivalent about natural pet food’s trustworthiness.

Pet owner trust in natural pet food

Natural pet food now reigns as the gold standard in dog and cat food marketing, said David Sprinkle, publisher and research director at Packaged Facts, during his presentation at Petfood Forum 2018. A Packaged Facts survey found that 64 percent of pet owners neither agree nor disagree with the statement that they can trust the quality of pet foods from organic or natural pet food companies, which was similar to trust in both mass market and regional pet food companies.

Pet food trends quiz results

However, when Watt Global Media, publisher of Petfood Industry, quizzed Petfood Forum 2019 registrants on consumer trends, pet food industry professionals’ responses did not match Packaged Facts’ market research.

“Myth or Fact: The majority of pet owners trust the quality of pet foods from organic or natural pet food companies more than mass market pet food companies,” the quiz posed this to more than 1,300 Petfood Forum registrants.

The majority of participants, at 77%, responded that it was a fact.

Another question asked, “What is the #1 pet food ingredient consumers DON’T want?”

The answer could be found in “Infographic: 6 pet food ingredients consumers don’t want.” Professionals’ and pet owners’ responses to this question varied dramatically.

People increasingly don’t want specific classes of ingredients in their pets’ meals, said James Restivo, director of client development at market research group Nielsen, during the opening session of Petfood Innovation Workshop 2018. To avoid these substances, pet food buyers now look for “free-from” claims on the products they buy.

Consumers told Nielsen that they do not want genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in their dog, cat and other pet foods more than any other type of ingredient. At 28.8%, GMO was the top response, with filler at 4.3% and artificial colors at 3.9%

In Petfood Industry’s quiz, responses differed from those of pet owners in Nielsen’s surveys. Petfood Forum 2019 registrants selected filler as the top ingredient that consumers do not want with 42% of respondents selecting that. GMO came in second with 33%, followed by artificial colors at 25%.