Attending pet food and pet trade shows around the world is one of the best parts of my job. My travels in 2016 to date have ranged from Orlando (Global Pet Expo) to Bangkok (Petfood Forum Asia 2016) to Kansas City, Missouri, USA (Petfood Forum 2016) to Germany (Interzoo). Several key pet food trends weave a common thread throughout all these events, proving that the world—and our industry—are indeed global. (See www.petfoodindustry.com/blogs/7.)
- Meat and proteins. The focus on meat so prevalent in North America has definitely “jumped the pond” to Europe and beyond. At Interzoo, companies from around the globe touted fresh meat, high meat, BARF and other claims, often with the companion claim of grain free. At the same time, alternative proteins are gaining more attention, whether for perceived health reasons such as pet allergies or concerns over supply and sustainability. Insect protein, for example, is showing up in pet treats in North America and even complete diets in Europe.
- Sustainability. This was a common theme in Petfood Forum 2016 presentations on pet food ingredients such as novel proteins, by-products and biomass. For a real market example, Beco Pets, a UK manufacturer of eco-friendly pet products, launched its Eco Conscious Food for Dogs at Interzoo. The philosophy carries through from the ingredients—one formula includes locally sourced, free-range chicken meat, fat and eggs—to the packaging, which the company says is the first plastic, resealable, completely biodegradable bag.
- Transparency. Another word heard frequently at Petfood Forum, it’s been on display at other shows, including Open Farm’s booth at Global Pet Expo showing what its Certified Humane claim means and featuring its new app for tracing the origin of all ingredients in its products, and Nativia, a small Czech pet food company, explaining on its packaging at Interzoo exactly how much fresh meat and animal protein, on a dry matter basis, is in each product.
- Alternative/specialty categories. Freeze-dried pet food is hot in the US, especially “kibble plus” products that mix freeze-dried bits with traditional dry food at a much more affordable price. Limited-ingredient diets and other specialty products are rising in popularity globally, with companies such as Vital Petfood Group, a Danish private label manufacturer, offering custom condition-specific diets to pet shops and veterinary clinics, and MSM Pet Food of Italy debuting a three-layered kibble with a gel-like interior.