3 healthy lifestyle trends shaping new dog and cat foods

Pet food companies can produce pet foods that meet these healthy lifestyle trends.

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photo by Andrea Gantz
photo by Andrea Gantz

Beyond the traditional game of catch in the park, pet owners now want to share more of their outdoor adventures with their pets, especially dogs. People too pay more attention to the foods they eat to fuel their lifestyles and seek out ingredients that match their focus on health and well-being. Pet food companies can produce pet foods that meet these healthy lifestyle trends by producing products that fall into one of the three categories defined by Sothara Sieng, marketing director for Diana Pet Food, during his presentation at Clextral’s Animal Feed Extrusion Course on October 16, 2018 in Saint-Etienne, France.

Pet food trends classification series

This article is part of a series exploring how pet food trends can be classified. Read more:

1. Carefree Joy

Pet owners want to know that the foods they feed their pets are not harming their animals’ health, he said. In particular, free-from claims have become important drivers in pet owners’ choices. Whether it’s GMOs, corn or gluten, pet owners avoid specific ingredients out of concerns for safety and health, regardless of whether evidence backs up their fears or not. While pets’ actual sensitivities to certain ingredients may be more abstract than empirical, people will avoid pet foods that contain those constituents.

Ultimately, people want to see their pets’ joy in eating without fears or guilt, he said. Pet food makers can adapt to this “carefree joy” trend by trading conventional ingredients for alternatives with less stigma, such as using brown rice in place of white rice. Avoiding ingredients that people are becoming more concerned about, such as carrageenan, can also help pet food companies stay ahead of consumers’ fears.

2. Performance fuel

Along with avoiding some ingredients perceived as risky, pet food makers need to keep an eye on which ingredients consumers believe boost their health and athletic performance, he said. The high protein trend serves as an example of this. Diet trends in human food enhanced pet owners demand for high-meat, protein-rich pet foods as “performance fuel.”

For example, protein bars accompany many people on their camping and hiking trips. Pet food makers have latched onto this by creating portable, nutrition meal bars for pets, such as the Out Bar for dogs, he said. Using wholesome, nutrient-dense ingredients can help brands meet consumers’ demands for pet foods that fuel a pet during adventures.

3. Preventive care

To embark on those adventures, people and pets can’t be ill. Increasingly, people look to avoid health problems through their diet, and like so many other trends, they want to do the same for their pets. People want their pets’ food to help the animals stay youthful, vital and vigorous, Sieng said.

Pet food producers have met this trend with products like dental chews that proactively clean pets’ teeth, he said. Other manufacturers market their pet foods and treats as boosting pets’ wellness with cannabidiol.

Clextral Animal Feed Extrusion Course

Siang’s session started the Animal Feed Extrusion Course hosted by Clextral from October 16 to 18 in Saint-Etienne, France. Clextral manufactures pet food and animal feed extruders and other processing equipment, among other machines. While Clextral has been hosting extrusion courses in the United States for approximately 15 years, this was their first in France. Although it was the workshop’s maiden voyage, 38 people from 14 countries attended.

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