How to ace Petfood Forum 2019’s educational sessions

With a little bit of planning, you can make the most of the general sessions and specialized tracks offered throughout Petfood Forum 2019.

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Petfood Forum 101 is a first-time show attendee and exhibitor program for Petfood Forum USA. | Tess Stukenberg
Petfood Forum 101 is a first-time show attendee and exhibitor program for Petfood Forum USA. | Tess Stukenberg

One of Petfood Forum’s primary draws are its educational sessions held throughout the trade show and conference each year. With multiple “tracks” available, the ability to attend sessions from more than one track, and the trends and data-focused general sessions and panel discussions, any Forum attendee is going to have a wealth of educational options at their fingertips.

Opening keynote and general sessions

Petfood Forum 2019’s opening keynote on April 30 will bring Katy Nelson, D.V.M. to the stage. The host and executive producer of “The Pet Show with Dr. Katy” and associate veterinarian at the Belle Haven Animal Medical Centre in Alexandria, Virginia, USA will share some of the latest research on the human-animal bond and its benefits to both parties. Passionate about pet nutrition and its importance as the foundation for good health, Nelson will address its role in developing and strengthening this bond. In addition, she will provide insights for pet food brands on the questions and concerns she hears from her pet owner clients.

Following the keynote, Forum’s first general session will take place: “Premiumization: the evolution of pet food’s most important growth driver,” presented by Jared Koerten, head of pet care for Euromonitor International, will examine premiumization as a global megatrend, exploring the drivers, motivations and sociodemographic shifts behind it. The second general session, “Pet food lawsuits: recent trends and the future of labeling litigation,” will be presented by Michael Annis, partner at Husch Blackwell, and will offer guidance on litigation risks if claims of false advertising arise and how to best protect against claims being initiated in the first place.

On May 1, the opening general session, “Omnichanneling: the wheres and whys of shoppers’ channel choices for pet food,” will highlight exclusive research conducted by Packaged Facts and will be presented by the market research company’s Research Director David Sprinkle. The day’s second general session, “Choosing dog food: survey results of dog owners’ purchasing decisions,” presented by Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Maria R. C. de Godoy, will reveal results from an online survey that aimed to understand the beliefs and knowledge that pet owners have in terms of their lifestyle and nutrition, and how those translate into the nutritional needs and daily care of their pets.

Such trends-focused sessions are hallmarks of Petfood Forum and help set the tone for both the overall show and the educational tracks and panel discussions that take place later each day. If you’re looking to get a solid finger on the pulse of pet food industry trends, as well as scope out some specifics to focus on during the show, these sessions are highly recommended. And, as they take place in the morning, they are more easily attended by those who may have a busy booth to focus on later in the day, lunch meetings to go to, or just the overall tradeshow hustle and bustle that may make it easy to forget a session you meant to check out.

Educational tracks: nutrition, ingredients, market and packaging, and processing and safety

Petfood Forum 2019 boasts four different educational tracks taking place via five concurrent sessions each on the afternoon of April 30. If you’re looking for specific knowledge in a single category (nutrition, ingredients, market and packaging, or processing and safety), you’re in luck! You can simply choose a room and settle in for an afternoon of education. The ingredients track, for example, takes place in room 2503 at the Kansas City Convention Center, and offers the following sessions:

  • New pet food ingredient? What you need to do to use it legally in the U.S.
  • Evaluation of black soldier fly larvae as a protein and fat source in pet foods
  • Protein from wood: nutritional, economical, safe and sustainable ingredient for performance dogs and cats
  • Ancient grains: what’s old is new again
  • Novel probiotic freeze-dried products as functional pet treats or pet food ingredients

But maybe only a couple of sessions in a given track sound interesting, or maybe you want to focus on two different topics: say, nutrition and packaging. No problem; the sessions for each track fall into standardized time slots, so you can easily attend the 1:00 pm nutrition session, “Pet food energy calculations: are inaccurate equations contributing to feline obesity?” and then sit in on the 1:30 pm packaging session, “Packaging for the digital world.” Whatever your educational goal is at Forum, we have you covered!

Panel discussions: science versus marketing, the canine DCM investigation and the future of pet food

On May 1, Petfood Forum is providing the opportunity to get multiple insights on a given topic during the same session, with three different afternoon roundtables happening concurrently. Each panel has four to five experts ready and willing to discuss various aspects of the primary topic, as well as plenty of opportunity for audience Q&A. Discussions include:

  • Science vs. marketing: what’s driving pet food product development?
  • Update on the canine DCM investigation: lessons learned, insights for the future
  • The future of pet food and its consumers

One final panel to close out the day will focus on “the new world of selling pet food” and will play host to various pet food, retailer and e-commerce executives prepared to discuss how to navigate today’s disruptive, continually morphing world of distributing and selling pet food.

Making the most of it

Whatever you want to hear about at Petfood Forum, odds are there’s a track or a session for you. From overall trends data to a focus on a specific emerging trend, you can find what you need and fit it into your busy convention schedule. Make sure to check the full schedule online ahead of time so you can hit the ground running on April 30. And once you’re at Forum, make use of the Guide available when you pick up your badge and the Petfood Forum 2019 app, which gives you the ability to plan your day and set reminders so you don’t miss a session!

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