Fresh food’s place in the pet food world

A specialized segment, fresh pet food is gaining more traction thanks to consumer shifts in what they want to eat for their own nutrition.

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The term “fresh,” as Research Director and Packaged Facts Publisher David Sprinkle points out in this issue’s Market Report (p.xx), has long been a significant draw for the human food market. Of course, 2020 has given the trend additional depth as people take a closer look than ever before at their health and wellness in the midst of an ongoing pandemic.

As goes human food, so goes pet food

Recent ADM OutsideVoice research, published by the company in August 2020, shows that 77% of consumers intend to make more attempts to stay healthy in the future. The top behavioral shifts in the human food space identified by ADM’s research include:

  • an increasing focus on the connection between gut health and immune function;
  • the mainstreaming of plant-based proteins;
  • a more nuanced focus on weight management and metabolic health;
  • a better balance between emotional wellbeing and nutrition;
  • a desire for more personalized health and wellness solutions; and
  • a shift in shopping values with a plan to purchase more items related to health and wellness.

Sound familiar? It should, because gut health has been a hot topic in functional pet food circles for years now, plant-based proteins in formulations are gaining more notice, pet obesity continues to be a hot topic, and customization and personalization are keys to a lot of what pet parents are looking for from their pet food companies these days.

But what is “fresh” to pet food customers?

Fresh food, both in the human and pet food spaces, is gaining traction because consumers equate it with other phrases like minimally/hardly processed, natural, whole foods, etc. — and when put together, all those phrases add up to “healthy” in consumer minds.

What this means for pet food is that the idea of “fresh” as a viable pet food option is only going to grow. Right now it mostly exists in the superpremium pet food space, in subscription services and human-grade products and in companies like this issue’s cover profile JustFoodForDogs (p.xx). By many accounts the companies operating in this segment want to see it grow and become more competitive, and it’s likely they’re going to get their wish.

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