Pet specialty is the main retail channel driving continued growth for pet food in the US, and for many of these retailers, pet food is one of their best-selling product categories, according to past surveys conducted by Pet Product News. So when that publication asks its readers (who are mainly independent pet retailers) which trends they’ll be following and expecting this year, it’s worth paying attention to the ones involving pet food and treats.
For example, Lisa Senafe, president and founder of Bentley’s Pet Stuff, which Pet Product News named as its retailer of the year for 2016-2017, commented that, in terms of innovative pet foods hitting the market, semi-moist or baked products are doing well in the company’s 39 (and counting) stores. “We definitely see our customers seeking nutrition-boosting products that can be added to their pets’ food, or those that already have these ingredients mixed in,” Senafe added. “These foods create mealtime that is more fun and flavorful.”
In terms of pet treats, Senafe mentioned “interactive” ones or those with a purpose or function, such as dental, joint, and skin and coat health. “It’s like a little added bonus for a customer wanting to feel better about feeding his or her dog a treat.” (Her comments about treats were seconded by another retailer.)
Other members of Pet Product News’ retail panel said:
Pinning down the exact meaning of some of these comments and descriptions is a bit difficult; and because the comments published were brief, there was no background information or substantiation for most of them (like the last one about other retail channels). Still, several key themes emerge. While none are really new or a surprise, the focus they’re receiving from people who interact daily with pet food-buying consumers means they probably deserve some focus from pet food companies, too.