Today’s pet owner is paying close attention to where the ingredients in their dog or cat’s food come from, and product packaging is the most direct way to answer their questions. In addition, much like with their own food, pet owners want to know that every facet of the food they buy for their pets is safe, including the packaging.
Transparency key for accountability
“Pet parents want the quality and safety standards of their pets’ food to match that of their own food,” said Jonas Kristensson, business development manager for Tetra Pak. “Aligning with this trend, the demand for packaging that delivers safe, high-quality pet food will continue to gain momentum.”
One easy way for pet food manufacturers to project accountability is in how the food is presented on pet store shelves.
“We’re definitely seeing more transparent panels,” said Robert Hepburn, vice president of sales for Pacific Bag. “Treats have had windows in them for a long time, but we’re starting to see the folks with kibble want to do windows, as well. [The consumer] actually knows what’s in the bag, because [they] can actually see what it is.”
Safety certifications for pet food packaging
Various food safety certifications can get the job done on the packaging side, assuring manufacturers that their product is going into a container that matches their own strict safety practices. Among these are the SQF (Safe Quality Food) certifications.
“[One of the things] that we bring to the market is our food level safety,” said Bruce Jensen, vice president of sales and marketing for TC Transcontinental Packaging. TC Transcontinental recently expanded its packaging business into the pet food space. “Our plants are SQF Level 2 or 3 certified, which a lot of our competitors are not. It’s the push into fresh, which requires a whole different process and investment. And that helped us bring in a different story to some of our customers: They say, wow, these guys really have their act together, and really understand what it is to be food safe.”
Morris Packaging’s Missouri, USA-based manufacturing plant, Morris Converting, was awarded SQF Level 3 certification in August 2017 after receiving Level 2 certification in 2016. “With this certification, Morris Converting has taken another great step in our efforts to provide the highest-quality product in the packaging industry,” said Morris Converting Quality Control Supervisor and SQF Practitioner Lane Brinkmann. Morris Converting also achieved a “Superior” rating from AIB International, a globally recognized standard for inspection where facilities must meet key requirements and prove their products are wholesome and safe.
Morris Converting, which started as a greenfield operation in 2014, received Level 2 SQF certification in 2016 and then made the decision to proceed with the Level 3 certification process specifically focusing on quality management. | Photo courtesy Morris Packaging
Safety just one piece of a larger packaging puzzle
Safety, traceability and accountability are important to pet food customers, but those concepts alone won’t get pet food off the store shelves. They’re just one part of a larger packaging puzzle that the industry must stay on top of in order to remain successful in a quickly shifting, consumer-driven market.
For the full companion article, "Pet food packaging must stand out, be sustainable,” published in the November 2017 issue of Petfood Industry magazine, see www.PetfoodIndustry.com/articles/6706.