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Five trends influencing pet nutrition, health & wellness

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Article contributed by ADM, Chicago, USA

Global petfood market is growing and is at USD $115.50 and is projected to grow to USD $163.70 billion by 2029. The pandemic had its role to play in this boom as most people worked from home and chose to get a pet to keep them company.

ADM, a global leader in human and animal nutrition, has shared five drivers that will shape the pet industry and propel market growth in the new year. These pet nutrition trends build on ADM’s broader annual outlook of global consumer trends that are influencing the food, beverage and animal nutrition industries.

“Many of today’s consumers expect their pets’ foods to be made from ingredients on par with their own meals,” says Mark Lotsch, ADM’s President, Global Health & Wellness. “This increasing humanisation of pets is cultivating a holistic approach to pet well-being, including weight management, digestive health and customised, premium solutions. With these key consumer insights in mind, innovations in pet nutrition and wellness solutions will help satisfy pet parents’ latest demands.”

A Comprehensive Approach to Physical and Emotional Well-being

Modern pet parents are treating their pets as good as—or better than—themselves. As human trends increasingly inform pet nutrition innovations, new ways to proactively support pets’ overall well-being will continue to emerge. Most pet owners are seeking out foods, treats and supplements to help improve their pets’ physical and behavioural health. For instance, 57 percent of global pet owners say that health claims are important when choosing pet food to purchase, and 33 percent of U.S. pet owners would like to see calming and anxiety relief benefits in pet food and treats. Additionally, consumers want to see evidence of treat and supplement effectiveness, with label claims like “clinically tested,” “scientifically studied” and “vet recommended”.

Research indicates a variety of functional ingredients may have promising pet nutrition applications. High-fiber diets and some biotic strains, such as BPL1™A,B,C (Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis CECT8145) and BPL1™ HT, may help pets maintain a healthy weight. Prebiotics, probiotics and postbiotics may also support digestive health, oral health and help calm stressed animals. Additionally, health-oriented blends may be tailored with functional ingredients associated with certain benefits, such as immune function and skin and coat condition. Scientific breakthroughs are leading the way for proactive solutions that can help care for pets’ minds and bodies.

The Macro Effect of the Gut Microbiome

Many consumers are aware of the potential role their gut microbiome plays in their everyday lives, and now humans are gaining insight on how the gut microbiome can affect animal well-being. A reported 60 percent of pet owners would like the petfoods and treats they purchase to have a digestive health benefit. In the U.S., 27 percent of pet supplement shoppers looked for information about their pet’s microbiome in the past 12 months. Notably, bacterial strains used for human wellness can be useful for pet care, too.

DE111® (Bacillus subtilis) A,B, for example, is a robust spore-forming probiotic strain that can persist through a wide range of processes, temperatures and acidic environments to remain viable. This capability is critical for applying gut microbiome-supporting ingredients to food and supplement applications. Research also shows that PreforPro®A,B, a next-generation prebiotic created based on a bacteriophage blend, has a growth-promoting effect on a broad spectrum of probiotic bacteria when competing with undesirable bacteria. Furthermore, Pro-Kolin Advanced®A, a leading digestive supplement for dogs and cats, contains a blend of beneficial microorganisms, several prebiotic sources, an optimal level of a dual-source binding agent and soothing fibers to support gastrointestinal function.

ADM’s cutting-edge R&D capabilities (including C. elegans and animal models) allow for the identification of potential health benefits early on during the screening of new probiotic and postbiotic strains and their subsequent confirmation in clinical trials. Additionally, ADM has entered a strategic partnership with Gnubiotics Sciences SA to develop and commercialise innovative microbiome solutions for pet well-being.

Taking A Proactive Approach to Customised Care

As with human nutrition, “one-size-fits-all” solutions may not be ideal for maintaining lifelong wellness of every pet. The industry is shifting to a new approach, with a deeper understanding of how cats and dogs eat, sleep, play and behave throughout their lives. Unsurprisingly, human supplement trends tend to guide proactive solutions for pet well-being.

Research finds 88 percent of U.S. pet parents say it’s important to take preventative measures to protect their pets’ health. Products with targeted benefits give consumers confidence that the product will deliver desired results. Plus, with more health and wellness options to choose from, pet parents can see which products offer unique ways to address specific concerns. Owners of younger pets typically look for products that can support immune function and general wellness for lifelong benefits, while parents of older pets often seek out tailored solutions, such as those that address joints and mobility.

Both functional treats, which are made with food ingredients that offer nutritional benefits, and pet health supplements, which support a specific structure or function of the body and are non-nutritional, are segments expected to grow rapidly in coming years. Top concerns supported by pet supplements include anxiety and calming, mobility and joints, immune function, skin and coat, liver and kidney, and digestion. Customised nutrition strategies that cater to an individual pet’s specific needs can enhance development and healthy aging.

The Power of Premiumisation

New product launches present the opportunity to create an elevated, enjoyable experience for consumers and their furry companions alike. Notably, two-thirds of global pet parents like to see products with new and unusual flavours for their dogs and cats, and over 80 percent of owners monitor whether their pets like the taste of the products that they purchase. Fun and playful foods in eye-catching colours, exciting flavours and interesting shapes are on-trend for pets and the people who shop for them. Dog-friendly ice cream, squeezable, lickable cat treats and biscuits inspired by seasonal holidays are just a few examples of the humanisation of pets.

One way to catch pet parents’ attention is with bright colours and culinary flavours sourced from nature. For example, orange and yellow kibble can signal pumpkin, chicken or honey flavours, while rich browns suggest meaty and gravy flavors. Custom colour blending can achieve an infinite number of shades tailored to the application, like a deep green dental chew made with huito fruit juice blue and turmeric spice yellow. “Close-to-nature” and other “clean label” cues are frequently perceived as higher quality, with 70 percent of both cat and dog owners saying the quality of ingredients makes a product more premium. Many pet parents are searching for premium, nutritious products described as “all natural,” non-GMO or organic. These descriptors often signal premiumization to consumers, helping reassure them that foods and treats are free from artificial or other ingredients that could be detrimental to their pet’s health. Beyond the basics, some pet owners are also turning to food toppers and other mix-ins to enhance sensory appeal and pet pampering.

Better for Planet, Better for Pets

Modern pet parents are shopping for high-quality, responsibly produced foods for the entire family. Over 42 percent of pet owners say they want to purchase pet food with sustainably sourced ingredients. Plus, 72 percent of pet owners say they will pick one product over another if they deem it to be more environmentally friendly. In tandem with its corporate Strive 35 goals, ADM works to mitigate the environmental impact of sourcing, production and packaging throughout the entire pet nutrition value chain. For example, ADM’s portfolio of alternative proteins, including beans, pulses, ancient grains, nuts and seeds, is recognised as highly sustainable and traceable from farm to plate, with many growers involved in regenerative agriculture practices that support short- and long-term sustainability improvements.

The pet nutrition industry is buzzing with innovations that help conserve natural resources and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including PetDine’s solar-powered operations, Innovafeed’s industrial symbiosis model to produce black soldier fly larvae (BSFL), and Bond Pet Foods’ animal-free proteins cultivated by precision fermentation technology. More environmentally oriented product packaging is on the horizon, like 100 percent recyclable packaging that maintains kibble quality and safety, preventing oxidation or spoilage to prolong shelf life. With these solutions and more ingenuity to come, the pet industry can help meet the ever-evolving needs of pet owners around the world.

“As a go-to partner to forward-thinking pet nutrition companies, ADM is invested in producing petfood the right way, benefiting pets as well as their parents, the industry and the planet,” says Jorge Martínez, President, ADM Pet Nutrition. “Brands that can nimbly adapt to a more holistic approach to pet well-being and a more responsible way of conducting business will be poised for success in 2023 and beyond.”



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