Pet parents look beyond natural with pet food purchases

Pet owners demand more specific pet food features and claims, certification of pet food ingredients and transparency from pet food companies.

photo by Blas |
photo by Blas |

Natural pet food products and label claims have become so common that they are hardly a market differentiator. Pet owners now seek more specific features and claims for the pet foods they’re willing to spend on and feed their furry family members (

Pet food manufacturers face scrutiny over quality, sustainability and traceability of ingredients, said Jared Koerten, lead analyst pet care for Eurmonitor, during the American Feed Industry Association Pet Food Conference in January 2017. Another presenter, Melissa Brookshire, DVM, founder of North River Enterprises, added that today’s consumers want to know everything about a pet food: how are the animals/fish in the food raised and handled? Where is every single ingredient sourced, and where are your foods made?

Many of these questions are understandable, particularly since the 2007 melamine-related pet food recalls raised awareness over these matters. That awareness has since expanded to demands for transparency from pet food companies, clearer pet food labels and certifications proving claims such as humane, ethically raised or sustainably sourced, produced and transported.

Consumers will continue to demand transparency, which will lead to the increased use of certified ingredients,” said Jennifer Adolphe, PhD, senior nutritionist for Petcurean. “Certifications are a clear way to inform consumers about the way in which a food or ingredient is produced.”

Are certifications enough? Pet food companies are encountering an increasingly skeptical audience that doesn’t seem to trust science-backed information. As Brookshire commented in her Petfood Forum 2017 presentation: “The task of selling the science to consumers who really want the warm fuzzy feeling that their pet is getting food just like their own is a real challenge.”

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