3 functional foods moving into pet food from human trends

These functional foods are part of a trend in human food, called biohacking.

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Whole and ground turmeric (matka_Wariatka | BigStockPhoto)
Whole and ground turmeric (matka_Wariatka | BigStockPhoto)

While walking around New York City, Natasha Davis, client service manager for GfK, noticed how many cafes were advertising coffee with turmeric, then she noticed that pet foods too were promoting turmeric in their products. As with many human health and wellness trends, turmeric had translated into pet food as a functional ingredient. Davis mentioned two other trending functional foods, honey and coconut, making the jump from human to pet food during her presentation at Petfood Forum 2018 on April 24, 2018 in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

These functional foods are part of a trend in human food, called biohacking.

“Now, biohacking is not new, and there’s a very scientific side to it,” she said. “But at its very basic principle, it’s the idea of adding nutrients or more natural foods to your regular feeding to improve your health to improve your quality of life.”

Three functional ingredient biohacking trends in pet food

1. Turmeric

Turmeric has been used in pet food for years, but only appeared on the ingredient panel, she said. Now, turmeric is moving around to the front of the package.

Health benefit claims associated with turmeric in pet food include:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Relief of arthritis pain
  • Gastrointestinal disorder help
  • Steroid replacement
  • Allergy relief

2. Coconut

Another ingredient that is migrating from the ingredient panel to the front of pet food packaging is coconut. In human products, coconut is touted as a beauty aid, weight-loss aid and hydration helper, she said. Similar claims have followed the giant seed into the pet food market.

Health claims associated with coconut in pet food include:

  • Healthy skin and coat
  • Improves digestion
  • Superfood benefits
  • Thyroid health
  • Increases energy

3. Honey

Davis asked, when you have a sore throat, what’s the first thing people recommend? Honey in water. Many human health and wellness, or biohacking, products use honey. Pet food products too now promote honey for sore throats along with other health benefits, while sweetening products naturally.

Health claims of honey in pet food include:

  • Throat soothing
  • Allergy reduction
  • Anti-microbial/ anti-fungal
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Appetite stimulant
  • Natural sweetener

Biohacking and the pet food industry

These three ingredients started as health and wellness ingredients among people. The ingredients were particularly popular among millennials following the biohacking trend. As millennial pet owners continue to demand similar foods for their pets as themselves, functional ingredients seem likely to continue moving onto the ingredient decks of pet food and treats.

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