Small pet food follows humanization, therapeutic trends

Trends seen in the cat and dog food market also influence new products in the pet pig, bird, rabbit, hen, ferret and other small animal foods markets.

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Photo by woogies, BigStock.com
Photo by woogies, BigStock.com

In the new products area of Superzoo 2018, trends seen in the cat and dog food market also influence new products in the pet pig, bird, rabbit, hen, ferret and other small animal foods markets. These pet food trends included therapeutic or functional ingredients, superfoods, sustainability and documented sourcing of agricultural products. There was even a mix that backyard-chicken flock tenders can bake into cake treats for their hens.

Therapeutic small pet foods with functional ingredients

Several of the new products on display were marketed as treating specific ailments while others promoted superfoods as pet food ingredients. These therapeutic or functional recipes were the most prevalent trend among the small pet foods and treats on display.

For example, MannaPro introduced two varieties of treat for small, pet pigs. One was a skin and coat formula, while the other included blueberries, which it prominently noted on the pouch’s front panel. From Oxbow, three new products offered joint, digestion and coronary support for rabbits, guniea pigs, chinchillas and other small animals. The digestive support recipe was called Papaya Support, and the pouch promoted papaya as a functional ingredient.

Sustainability and sourcing of small pet food ingredients

At the display for Higgin's new intune brand ferret food, a plastic pollack topped a small standing card. Higgin’s intune brand was promoting that they use “wild-caught, sustainable Alaska pollock.” What’s more in the text of the card they promoted the health benefits of the omega-3 fatty acids in the fish. Functional ingredient claims: check. The display also noted that the fish came from “pristine waters of the Bering Sea.” Specific regional sourcing and purity claims: check. Intune promoted that the fish were “processed immediately” on the ship. Freshness claims: check. Their fishery source was rated as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council, noted the display. Sustainability claims: check.

That’s a lot of trends in one ferret food. Similarly with their bird food, Higgin’s intune brand promoted its use of colors from seeds, vegetables and spices, with plastic ginger, red beets and spices on display to show the transformation from plant material to bird food. The bird food’s package also noted that the food used probiotics and contained omega-three and -six fatty acids, while using the word natural twice to describe the ingredients and preservation process.

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