Human food trends for pet food to track in 2016

Pet food trends closely follow—or, more often now, walk side by side with—those in human food. What should pet food companies be watching for in 2016?

Health is the halo over everything, remarked Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation for Innova Market Insights, in a webinar on the top 10 food trends for 2016. The same can be said for pet food trends, as they closely follow—or, often now, walk side by side with—those in human food. Thus, Innova’s list bears watching, as some of these trends will also play out in pet food (

  • Organic growth—new organic food products show the strongest growth, Williams said, now reaching over 9% of all global launches. In pet food, Packaged Facts reports have shown organic and natural sales (which tend to be combined) increasing 14.6% annually through 2019, though organic pet food accounts for only about 4% of the overall US market.
  • “Free from” for all—the free from trend has now hit mainstream, Williams said, especially gluten-free claims. This correlates to grain-free pet food sales soaring to US$2.6 billion from September 2014 to October 2015, according to GfK, a robust 25% annual growth rate.
  • Processing the natural way—brands now communicate more about their production processes, due to consumer interest in natural, authenticity and transparency. This is also true with pet food, especially among consumer seeking products in formats like raw, freeze-dried, frozen and baked.
  • Creating a real link—communicating to consumers about where a product comes from and the origin of its ingredients. Williams said the number of new food products with claims such as “made in” or “ingredients from” have tripled from 2011 to 2015. We are seeing a similar movement in pet food.
  • Beyond the athlete—the strong focus on protein continues, and not just for athletes. Protein has also become an increasingly important label claim for pet foods, and new sources are appearing in both human and pet foods.

With the new year also come a few changes to Petfood Industry. “Industry Calendar” is now part of “Industry News” (p. XX), and “Research Notes” is online only (, with periodical magazine updates. The annual Top Pet Food Companies report will now appear in the May issue, with 2015 data in our online database (

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