3 future trends in pet food manufacturing

Cade Culver, chief growth and transformation officer at Alphia, predicts key emerging trends in the next five years for the pet food industry.

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Advancements in technology, such as AI and automation, are poised to revolutionize pet food production processes.
Advancements in technology, such as AI and automation, are poised to revolutionize pet food production processes.
ShamimHR | bigstock.com

The pet food manufacturing industry is experiencing significant transformation driven by emerging trends, technological advancements and sustainability demands, shaping the future of pet nutrition.    

Cade Culver, chief growth and transformation officer (CGTO) at Alphia, a pet food co-manufacturer for brands and retailers, told Petfood Industry to expect on-the-go pet food solutions for traveling pets, premium food mimicking human diets, and a balance of affordability and quality as the key trends in the next five years, driven by deeper pet-owner bonds, demand for high-quality nutrition, and value-conscious spending.

Top 3 emerging trends in pet food manufacturing

  1. On-the-go pet food solutions. Pets are increasingly integrated into daily life, visible in their growing presence in public spaces such as airports, malls, and stores, said Culver. "This trend is driven by the emotional support pets provide and the deep bond between pets and their owners," he said. "As pets continue to accompany their owners more frequently, we will likely see a rise in demand for on-the-go pet food solutions, creating opportunities for innovative packaging, portable feeding options, and convenient, healthy snacks that cater to the lifestyle of modern pet owners."
  2. Humanization of pet food continues. Pet owners are increasingly seeking high-quality, nutritious foods modeled after their own dietary preferences, noted Culver. "This shift is driving the demand of premium pet food products that mimic human food trends such as organic, non-GMO, grain-free and minimally processed ingredients," he said.
  3. Value-conscious spending. While pet owners remain dedicated to providing the best products for their pets, there has been a shift toward value-conscious spending. "We are seeing the need for a more balanced approach in product development where we can still offer premium ingredients and highly nutritious products without compromising affordability," said Culver. "We know pet owners will always be committed to feeding their pets but understand the value in working with economic factors and changing consumer behavior."

Technology advancements in pet food production processes

Advancements in technology, such as AI and automation, are poised to revolutionize pet food production processes. These technological advancements are expected to enhance efficiency, safety and quality in pet food manufacturing, noted Culver.

"We are seeing how AI can optimize supply chain management, predict maintenance needs, and ensure quality control through advanced data analytics while automation streamlines production lines, minimizing human error and physical strain on factory workers, leading to safer working conditions," he said. "We're excited to see the future impact of AI on the pet food industry as technology continues to advance."

Increasing demand for sustainable, eco-friendly products continues

The sustainability trend is expected to continue to influence how pet food manufacturers approach production and packaging, focusing on reducing their environmental footprint. The shift toward eco-friendly products necessitates substantial investments in sustainable manufacturing processes, ingredients and packaging. "Committing to sustainability instills consumer trust and brand loyalty, showing that our customers are leaders in environmental stewardship within the industry," said Culver. 

Cade Culver, CGTOCade Culver, CGTOAlphiaCade Culver, chief growth and transformation officer (CGTO), leads Alphia’s business growth and transforming strategies within the company. With over 16 years in the consumer packaged goods industry, he previously served as president at Lassonate Pappas & Company, CCO at Hearthside Food Solutions, and VP and GM of Dole Diversified North America.


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