The pet food industry has seen significant shifts and growth given the lasting effects the coronavirus pandemic has had on consumer expectations for their pets. In 2021, U.S. retail sales of pet food for dogs and cats increased 6.4% from the previous year. By 2025, the industry is projected to reach $47.9 billion based on a 6.6% CAGR. The humanization of pets continues to be stronger than ever, as pet adoptions rose amongst Millennials and Gen Z, and many owners continue to spend more time at home.
Bearing this in mind, we see that drivers of the pet food industry fall closely in line with the evolution of consumer needs for themselves. Pet health and wellness has risen as a top priority, with the pets-as-family mindset influencing healthier food and even wearable devices. Just like their owners, pets are consuming more organic and vegan foods that are boosting the premium, high-quality food category. Increased personalization and supplements are becoming a regular part of pet routines to ensure adequate vitamins and nutrients are in their diets.
As more diverse options for food and treats emerge, consumers look for more than what is on the label when purchasing products. Sustainability and transparency across the value chain are key influences of conscious consumerism that is taking precedence. What’s more is that online shopping is here to stay and should be viewed as a prominent channel for many consumer segments looking to replenish their pet food products.
2022 Pet Food Industry Trends
Read the top five trends for the pet food industry this year:
Trend 1: Pet wellness expands beyond food to supplements and wearables.
Customers have been reflecting this mentality toward the lives of their pets as they continue to place more emphasis on their own health and wellness. Chewy found that 73% of owners believe that their pet’s health is just as important as the health of a family member. With this in mind, we can see that customers are seeking personalised options beyond a practical three-meal-per-day schedule.
Sales of pet supplements totaled $1.47 billion in 2020 alone. This trend is probably reflecting consumer interest in using herbs and superfoods to boost immunity. Supplements are frequently bought by owners to enhance the oral, heart, and joint health of their pets. Given the growing issue of obesity in dogs and cats, which is also supported by wearables, weight management supplements are also becoming more popular.
Pet owners would do anything to better serve their pet’s needs, even if that meant using technology to understand them. The pet wearables segment, for example, is on the rise to manage fitness goals or keep track of lost pets. Like smart watches and home security systems, pet collars and in-home cameras are becoming household accessories to ensure pet wellness and safety.
The prioritization of pet wellness is a trend here to stay this year, heavily influenced by pet owners’ own purchasing habits. The pet food offerings that are likely to see greatest success in 2022 are those that are customized and speak directly to the personal needs of pet owners who want the absolute best for their pets.
Trend 2: Premium pet food to drive portfolio strategies, with a focus on fresh, raw, and organic options.
Gone are the days where standard kibble is enough for pet owners’ furry family. Fresh, premium, and high-quality ingredients are a priority when consumers search for food and treats. Premium food brands have seen increased market share over the last 10 years, while standard food brands saw slight declines in market share. However, kibble remained a staple in U.S. dog owners’ homes, with nearly 94% of U.S. dog owners consistently purchasing kibble in 2021.
Fresh and raw food, including organic varieties, are continuing to rise in preference; many consumers are more willing to purchase or prepare fresh food if it becomes more affordable. Despite the cost, consumers recognize the value fresh food has on prolonging their pet’s health and immunity. In 2020 alone, organic pet food reached $22.8 billion in sales.
Major companies like Mars Petcare are attempting to buy Nom Nom, a direct-to-consumer pet food company, in order to capitalise on the rising demand for fresh food among consumers.
Pet food companies that are already in business or are thinking about doing so should take into account how consumer preferences for vegan, organic, and fresh foods will affect new products. To encourage long-term health, we anticipate that consumers will incorporate fresh and high-quality food into their regular pet routines.