Considering how often human food and pet food intersect, it’s no surprise that several of the top 10 human food trends for 2021 from Innova Market Insights have strong connections to pet food.
1. Transparency triumphs: Innova’s top trend, which is a culmination of existing trends since 2008 that combines sustainability, clean label and newer claims like human and animal welfare. “Over that time, it’s morphed and changed and gotten bigger, and umbrellas up to this trend now where we see that brands really do have to up their game when it comes to transparency,” said LuAnn Williams, director of insights and innovation for Innova. She referenced the company's 2020 survey of consumers in 10 countries showing that three in five are interested in learning more about where their food comes from and how it is made. “If you have a meaningful story, you can connect with consumers in a very new and different way.”
2. Nutrition hacking: “Technology is addressing demands for foods with enhanced nutritional value, sustainability or ethical impact,” Williams said. For several years, consumers have favored natural over science claims, for both human food and pet food. This trend may signify that consumers are now leaning more toward a balance between natural and science/technology, leveraging the best of both natural and tech-driven approaches.
Williams shared survey data indicating many consumers agreed they were prepared to compromise on naturalness for a product that fits their dietary needs. Four in five also believe in progress in food and beverage through science.
3. Tailored to fit: “We’ve been talking about personalized nutrition for 15 years, and now we see things really starting to take off,” Williams said. In the survey, 64% of consumers indicated they’ve found more ways to tailor their lives and the products they buy to their individual styles, beliefs and needs. Besides their food, that also means their entertainment, clothing and many other areas, including for some, pet food. Among several fast-growing categories, customized options and pet foods are one of the standouts, recently attracting new investment even during a pandemic. Some are also drawing on the rising field of pet microbiome research.
The Innova survey showed that for their own nutritional experiences, consumers most want them tailored according to their nutritional needs, lifestyles or body composition.