I just returned from Las Vegas to attend SuperZoo, one of the annual US pet trade shows. While not quite as large as other US shows such as Global Pet Expo, SuperZoo had a lot of buzz, activity and show floor traffic even on the very last afternoon. According to its organizers, the World Pet Association, the show featured nearly 800 exhibitors, a jump of 100+ from last year's 690, and an increase of 28% in attendees over last year's 10,275 retail buyers.
In terms of unique products or at least trends in the petfood/treat category, a few stood out:
- Prairie Dog Antlers, dog treats made from the (naturally shed) antlers of elk, deer and moose;
- Another line of treats, called Himalayan Dog Chew, made from yak or cow milk and hardened using what the company calls an "ancient recipe of the people of the Himalayas";
- A plethora of treats and petfoods touting the grain-free claim;
- Another bandwagon of foods and treats featuring novel protein sources, such as duck and kangaroo (the latter has been on the market before, but at this show I counted at least three companies featuring it in their products);
- More and more raw petfood lines, either frozen, freeze-dried or both. (Watch for an article on that category in the December issue of Petfood Industry.)
Where I saw the most innovation was in the category of what petfood goes into: bowls and dishes. There were many takes on the travel bowl, including a really unique one that converted into a flying disc (and vice versa) and another on a stake to drive into the ground -- presumably for larger dogs so they wouldn't have to bend their heads down as much -- with different compartments for water, treats and food. Plus, for bowls to use at home, a couple lines of eco-friendly dishes made from bamboo or other plant sources.
SuperZoo included a SuperZoo University with speakers on a variety of topics, including a few addressing nutrition or petfood, such as Dr. David Dzanis offering ways for retailers to sort out petfood facts, fallacies and myths (see videos here and here). I also sat in on a thought-provoking presentation by Dr. Roger Clemens, chief scientific officer for ET Horn and president of the Institute of Food Technologists, on how to find or ask for evidence-based science behind nutrition and petfood claims. Dr. Clemens will be speaking at Petfood Forum 2012 in April.