In 2021, pet owner’s emphasis on sustainability continued a decade long growth trend. The articles listed below represent some of the topics Petfoodindustry.com covered in 2021. The pandemic, natural disasters, civil unrest and other factors may be fueling the growing importance of environmental and social consciousness in the pet food industry.
Factors influencing pet owners’ sustainability demands
The fragility of human life and our global economy became ever more apparent during the pandemic. In two years, a simple collection of proteins and ribonucleic acids killed more people than many of history’s worst wars, brought international travel to a standstill and disrupted global economies. The COVID-19 pandemic provided an example of how unstable the world can be.
Natural disasters added to the impression of instability in 2021. Heavy rains caused floods that drowned hundreds in Germany, Belgium and China. Tornadoes in the United States killed 90 people. Hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons killed hundreds more in Latin America, the U.S., Indonesia, India and other regions near the Tropics. Global warming intensifies storms like these. Greenhouse gases cause more heat energy to be stored in the atmosphere, according to the U.S. National Air and Space Administration. Molecules of methane and its ilk absorb heat but don’t block sunlight. The sun’s energy gets in, but the gases keep it from getting back out after it turns into heat. This extra energy translates to more powerful storms. While proving direct causality to climate change is impossible, these natural disasters draw pet owners’ attention to environmental matters.
During the pandemic, pet owners have also spent more time with their own animals developing deeper bonds with their dogs, cats and other creatures. Pet owners were already more attuned to animal welfare claims on products than other consumers. Increasing bonds between pets and people during the pandemic may have translated into yet more focus on how livestock live. In 2021, market researchers observed that pet owners in Europe and North America seem to focus on the ethical claims made by pet food brands more than other regions.
The health of livestock relates to preventing the next pandemic, considering that COVID-19 first appeared in a market selling live animals for human consumption. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, may have passed to humans from an animal, according to scientists in the journal Microbiology Australia.
Global food systems and health systems share many links. Those links extend into the ecosystems of the planet. Maintaining those ecosystems helps ensure that other viruses stay in the wild and don’t cross into humans. Biodiversity loss may have created conditions leading to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to scientists writing in Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications. The researchers argued that the loss of habitat, urban growth and agricultural practices increase the probability of diseases spreading from wildlife to humans.
To counter biodiversity and habitat loss, pet food companies can support conservation efforts and potentially help avoid the next pandemic. The pet food industry can demand environmental impact and husbandry standards for livestock and farmed animals to support biosecurity, animal health and ecological stability.
Finding ways to create and tell a pet food brand’s sustainability story may lead to increased sales, as environmental issues will likely stay on pet owners' minds, influencing their purchasing behaviors.
Sustainable pet food industry news and analysis
January 14, 2021 - Many common and novel pet food ingredients are naturally sustainable, but pet food brands must figure out how to explain that benefit to consumers.
February 17, 2021 - The main downside of plastic pet food or treat bags is lack of sustainability, but recycling initiatives and other tests are experiencing success.
February 18, 2021 - A decade ago, Petfood Industry surveyed readers about the importance of sustainability in their companies. In the intervening decade, sustainability evolved from a consumer driven trend to a standard part of pet food producers and suppliers’ business strategies.
April 1, 2021 - Architects designed the pet food manufacturing plant to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards, a certification program for ecologically conscious building design.
June 9, 2021 - High-meat and human-grade marketing claims grew in popularity over the past few decades, but researchers warned that the pet food industry will need to focus on protein sources that don’t compete with human foods, while efficiently using resources and minimizing environmental pollution and habitat loss.
July 9, 2021 - Consumers hold brands responsible for sustainability and want environmental data on labels. Can pet food meet that demand given a lack of standardization?
August 1, 2021 - Pet food’s environmental impact has come under scrutiny based on a study often disputed by industry experts, but do we know the true level of sustainability?
September 8, 2021 - Resource efficiency helps reduce a company’s contribution to climate change, pollution, habitat destruction and other threats to the ecosystems that human economies depend on. The twin needs of energy efficiency and resource conservation drive innovation among producers of dried pet food ingredients and equipment manufacturers.
September 9, 2021 - Learn about how sustainability remains the top trend in pet food packaging, and how various packaging companies are looking to meet the needs of their customers and beyond.
October 19, 2021 - Upcycling is a new word for something the pet food industry has done for a long time, using human food products that would have otherwise gone to waste.
November 3, 2021 - Tree planting can benefit environmental and economic sustainability, while boosting employee morale, with a much smaller price tag than installing solar panels.
November 5, 2021 - By reaching out to veterinarians, pet food producers and their suppliers could help inform consumers about how their purchases affect the wider world.
November 8, 2021 - The top human food trends for 2022—sustainability and its offshoots, plant-based, gut health—all play an increasingly important role in pet food, too.
November 29, 2021 - Reducing energy usage benefits a pet food manufacturer’s finances while decreasing environmental repercussions.
December 1, 2021 - Along with an ongoing inventory of the company’s own annual carbon emissions, Kemin has begun paying attention to the rest of its value chain.
December 22, 2021 - Pet owners in Europe and North America seem to focus on the ethical claims made by pet food brands more than other regions.