“Superfoods” is one of those buzzwords that’s trendy in human nutrition and cuisine, applied to edibles that pack a powerful punch by offering multiple nutritional benefits. Petfood manufacturers are adapting the trend, adding these types of food products and ingredients to their products, because they know petfood consumers are seeking to feed their pets in many of the same ways they feed themselves and their human family members.
For example, according to the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation’s 2014 Food and Health Survey, 71% of US consumers cited healthfulness as a driver in their food and beverage choices, up from 61% in 2013. Similarly, a recent survey of US pet owners fielded by PetMD showed that nearly 80% choose a petfood based on how nutritious or healthy they think it will be for their pet.
Interestingly, in the PetMD survey, only 4% of respondents said price was the most important factor in selecting a petfood; the IFIC survey indicated price is much more significant—73%—for those respondents in choosing human foods and beverages. Obviously, it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison: besides the differences between the respondent pools, the IFIC survey seemed to pose its question about factors in food selection as a “choose all that apply,” while the PetMD survey asked for the most important factor in choosing a petfood. Yet it’s still striking that for human food, at least for the IFIC respondents, price was a little more important than healthfulness.
The PetMD survey also showed that 60% of the petfood-purchasing respondents always consider petfood ingredient labels in buying foods for their pets. Though I have concerns with the opinions and recommendations about such labels offered by PetMD’s veterinary expert, a Dr. Ashley Gallagher, the fact that more than half of these survey respondents said they read labels—in addition to the 80% considering nutrition first in choosing petfoods—indicates that at least in the US, pet owners have come to believe that sound nutrition, starting with petfood ingredients, is the foundation for good pet health.
You can read more about nutrition, ingredients and other topics related to petfood manufacturing and marketing on PetfoodIndustry.com, which will soon be relaunched as a completely new site. We have also refreshed the look of the magazine. Please tell us what you think by commenting directly on PetfoodIndustry.com or emailing [email protected].