Global Pet Expo has arrived: Here’s what we might see

There are several top pet food trends likely to be on display at Global Pet Expo, an annual pet-centric trade show.

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Ilargian Faus |
Ilargian Faus |

Global Pet Expo 2020 is upon us, and as always it presents the first significant opportunity of the year to get a look at what trends we’ll be seeing in terms of pet products. Last year CBD was the name of the game as we saw the trend explode into all areas of pet, and by the time SuperZoo rolled around we were also seeing the very beginnings of a response to the dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) situation. What can we expect to see on the Global show floor (and in the New Products Showcase) this week?

Specialty continues to drive trends

Specialty options in all their forms will continue to drive what we see in terms of new products in 2020, according to an expert panel assembled in December 2019 by SPINS, a wellness-focused data technology company.

“You may have heard the old adage that people treat their pets better than their children,” said Tony Olson, CEO of SPINS. “I don’t know about that, but what I do know is that people consider their pets as important members of the family and that means investing in premium products that improve their pet’s quality of life.”

The panel, comprised of product intelligence experts, registered dietitians and data analysts, came up with several trends we’ve already seen in pet food that will continue to make waves this year:

  1. Environmentally friendly: “Consumers are increasingly motivated to be more environmentally conscious and pet companies are tapping into this trend,” said SPINS. “Pioneer brands are looking to create meaningful impact above and beyond day-to-day pet products by spreading social and environmental consciousness.” We’ve already seen this in the expanding sustainability initiatives taken on by multiple pet food companies, and at this point I’d hesitate to call it a trend so much as a necessity for doing business in the pet food space. From environmentally conscious ingredients to recyclable packaging, expect to see sustainability play a key role in new products this year.
  2. Raw: According to SPINS data, pet products labeled “raw” are seeing double-digit growth, and dog owners are claiming to see positive benefits of a raw diet for their animals with healthier skin, coats and teeth. Even with all the back-and-forth about the safety/efficacy of raw pet food (a recall from Happy Hounds on February 7 and a warning from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regarding Aunt Jeni’s frozen raw pet food on February 14 are among the latest to hit the news), raw pet food is finding a devoted — and growing — consumer base among those pet owners who were making or would like to make their pets’ food themselves as well as those who feel they’ve tried everything else or don’t go in for “processed” feeding options.
  3. Ancient grains: “The concerns of DCM loom over dog owners leaving many seeking alternative pet foods that integrate ancient grains,” said SPINS in its report. From a novelty to a focus, ancient grains saw increased attention last year as a result of DCM, and while the trend already existed, it has found new legs as consumers do their best to wade through the limited information out there on the DCM situation and figure out what’s best for their pets. Pet food companies, of course, must respond to consumer concerns, even though in speaking to the industry it’s apparent that everyone would much rather wait for more concrete, scientific information on the subject before taking any action. Unfortunately, with the internet providing an accessible way for (mis)information to spread, no one is getting that chance.
  4. Hemp and CBD: To the surprise of no one, CBD and hemp products will continue to play a major role in 2020 pet food trends in spite of some still-nebulous acceptability of this ingredient. We are in the middle of the trend’s boom, and the majority of the pre-Global press releases I’ve received involve new CBD products hitting the show floor this week.

Want more thoughts on potential Global Pet Expo trends? My colleague provided her own thoughts in her column. Want live updates from the Global show floor? Follow me on Twitter this week for on-the-spot thoughts about what I’m seeing!

Briefly: Things I’d love to see at Global Pet Expo this year

  • Something truly innovative. In such a mature market it’s hard to find a new product that isn’t a variation on a theme; I’d love to come across an idea I’ve never seen before.
  • A novel ingredient that makes me go, “what’s that about?” There’s at least one every year, and I enjoy looking for them!
  • Advances in current trends. Sustainability in particular is interesting because it has the ability to touch every aspect of pet food production; I’m curious to see how the industry settles in as this trend becomes a staple.

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