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.
As consumers continue to place increasing focus on their own health and wellness, they have reflected this mindset toward their pets’ lives. According to a survey by Chewy, 73% of owners demonstrated their pets’ health is as important as a family member’s. With this in mind, we see that consumers are looking for customized choices that go beyond a functional three-meal-a-day routine.
In 2020 alone, the pet supplement market reached $1.47 billion in sales. This trend is likely speaking to consumer’s personal interest in building immunity through herbs and superfoods. Owners often purchase supplements to improve their pets’ joint health, skin or fur health, heart health, and oral health. Weight management supplements are also on the rise given the growing issue of obesity in dogs and cats, which is also supported by wearables.
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.
We are seeing major players like Mars Petcare looking to acquire advanced food processing start-up Nom Nom, a direct-to-consumer pet food brand, to better attract growing consumer interest in fresh food.
Brands that are established or considering entering the pet food market should consider how fresh, organic, and vegan preferences will translate into food and treat innovations. We expect to see consumers incorporating fresh and premium food as part of their regular pet routines to promote long-term health. Continue reading by downloading the full report below, and learn more about our Pet Food Consulting Services here.
Read last year’s Pet Food Industry Trends Report here.
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Contributions by Rachel Ruth