Probiotics to Protein: Functional claims to drive $26 billion pet nutrition market in 2018

By Adi Menayang

- Last updated on GMT

Getty Images / Maksym Azovtsev
Getty Images / Maksym Azovtsev

Related tags Nutrition

US consumers today are more keen to pick up a bag of pet food with functional claims and ingredients, such as probiotics, omega fatty acids, and glucosamine, according to the latest pet food market report by research firm Packaged Facts.

The trend echoes the human food and beverage space, where more consumers are shying away​ from traditional packaged snacks and beverages and gravitating towards those with functional claims.

“Pet food marketers are carving the market into many fine slices, all serving specialized target consumers with specific nutritional needs,”​ according to the report, titled Pet Food in the US, 13th Edition​.

As in human foods, “specialized pet foods offer whole food and/or nutraceutical ingredients, such as probiotics, omega fatty acids, glucosamine, fruits, and vegetables,”​ the report continued. Packaged Facts forecasted that “micro-targeted and functional pet foods will keep growing at an above-average clip during in the near-term.”

More pet owners look for preventive health benefits

Results from Packaged Facts’ online consumer survey, which had a sample size of approximately 2,000 respondents, revealed that preventive health benefits are a top priority for pet food shoppers. In fact, more pet owners than previous years agreed with the statement “High-quality dog/cat foods are effective for preventive health care.”

In the $26 billion pet food market—which excludes chews, treats, and supplements—functional claims may be seeing an increase in demand and new product development, but it still constitutes a very small portion of the industry.

In terms of sought-after claims, ‘probiotics/prebiotics’ topped the list, with only 4% of dog owners and 3% of cat-owners looking for products specifically with this claim. In comparison, topping the list of all claims, including non-functional ones, was ‘Made in the USA’ with 32% of dog and 31% of cat owners.

Protein for pets

The consumer survey also revealed that 65% of both dog and cat owners said they seek a high-quality protein diet for their pets. It was the most important product attribute for pet owners (43%), followed by taste (34%) and price (31%).

While most pet foods use animal protein as a source for this sought-after nutrient, the survey revealed that an increasing number of pet owners are also looking at plant-based proteins.

“According to the Packaged Facts September/October 2017 National Pet Owner Survey, 68% of pet owners say vegetables can be good ingredients, with 48% saying the same about brown rice.”

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