Pet food sustainability: Consumers want proof of claims

A survey of pet owners in five countries shows they find environmentally friendly companies important, but many don’t believe pet food sustainability claims.

Packaging With Certifications1
With pet owners seeming skeptical of pet food sustainability claims, it’s important to back them with certifications and verification. | Courtesy of Project Hive Pet Company

Much of sustainability’s evolution from buzzword to ongoing trend and business necessity has been driven by consumer demand. Purchasers of all types of products, including pet food, seek to lower their environmental footprint and buy in a way they think will mitigate the growing threats from climate change.

Companies like our cover profile, Project Hive Pet Company, exist to tap into that demand. The company says its dog treats and toys are all produced in a carbon-neutral manner, and 1% of its revenues are committed to 1% for the Planet, which in turn has Project Hive partnering with the Bee and Butterfly Habitat Fund.

Yet how likely are consumers to buy from companies like Project Hive? It seems to target U.S. consumers, who, according to a recent survey conducted by Yummypets, a France-based social community for pet lovers, are among the least willing to pay more for sustainably produced pet products. Of more than 1,500 pet owners in Belgium, Canada, France, U.K. and U.S. surveyed, only 24% of U.S. respondents said they would pay more, compared to 37.8% for French pet owners and 35.4% for British. The survey results were reported by David Palacios Rubio, editorial manager of GlobalPets magazine.

While 52.2% of all respondents said they sometimes research a company’s sustainability before buying its products, the percentage varied by country: French, Canadian and Belgian pet owners do this research at a higher rate, 50.2% to 62.2%, but for U.S. consumers, it’s only about 40% and British, only 34.5%.

A significant majority, 82.2%, of pet owners from all five countries believe it’s important for a product to be manufactured by an environmentally friendly company. Yet with a noticeably lower level of willingness to pay more for sustainably produced products, you have to question that importance.

The disconnect could come from this: 41.7% of respondents said they’re skeptical of pet food companies’ sustainability claims, with only 29.6% believing them. “French (48.5%) and American (43.3%) pet owners are the most skeptical,” Rubio wrote.

That makes it all the more essential for pet food and treat companies to back their claims with certifications and similar verification. Besides the 1% for the Planet commitment, for example, Project Hive is “actively pursuing” B Corp certification, along with climate neutral certification; and all its treats carry the Non-GMO Project Verified seal.


Sustainable pet food proteins

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