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2020 Petfood Innovation Outlook

2/14/2020  By Jeannie Swedberg


2020 Petfood Innovation Outlook

Following food trends in the pet food segment is very much like following them on the human food side of the business. Overarching trends such as health & wellness, convenience, CBD, and clean labels are found across both segments. Clean label goes beyond label scrutiny and now embodies sustainability, ethical, safe food production, and transparent business practices. Let’s face it, ever since we started humanizing our pets, the trends between the two markets mirror each other.

The U.S. pet industry continues to thrive as a result. In 2018, more than 40% of the American pet industry’s total revenue was from pet food. And the market grew a healthy 7.3% to $36B in 2019, according to Nielsen data.

So, what’s ahead in 2020? Based on sample activity from product developers in the pet industry and media experts, below are my top picks.

Kibble Plus – According to research in Petfood Processing Magazine, the segments expected to have the highest new product growth over the next two years are wet toppers and mix-ins. Pet parents continue to want to give their pets something more than plain kibble. Mix-ins and toppers give them options to tailor their pets’ foods to their own dietary patterns and might include: super foods, more fruits and veggies, organic, natural, small batch, antioxidant rich, etc.

CBD – If CBD is good for me, then it’s good for my four-legged friend. Just as we’re seeing interest in CBD rocketing off the charts in the human food segment, the same is happening in pet food, treats and supplements. CBD is positioned as a cure-all from pain relief to anxiety/stress release, joint health, and much - much more. Although it’s fascinating to watch this market take off, I don’t believe the science or regulations have caught up yet.

Life stage nutrition– Pet nutrition is no longer one-size-fits-all. Admittedly it hasn’t been for quite a while. Going forward though, we’re going to see more hyper segmentation in pet food offerings. Foods will be formulated for urban pets to combat the stresses of city life: anxiety relief products, aging formulations for joint health, cognitive health and more. And given the fact there are more than 52 million senior or geriatric dogs in the U.S. today, it is no wonder improved and targeted nutrition will be increasingly more important. To learn more on this subject, view our recently published whitepaper, "Combating Oxidative Stress in Animals" here.

Ingredients matter – Where ingredients are sourced, how they are sourced and what they provide nutritionally are under scrutiny by consumers. Consumers are interested in the back story of their pets’ food. A compelling brand story engenders brand trust and influences sales. Pets are important family members and pet parents want only the best for them.

Sustainability – Just as sustainability is dominating more of the conversation in the overall food and beverage industry, it will in the pet food space too. People are making food buying decisions based on a products’ sustainability, and they expect to do the same when buying pet food.

And of course, I couldn’t wrap this up without a plug for locally grown fruit. Tree Top fruit is proudly grown and processed in the U.S. with traceability from farm to formulation. Our growers carefully cultivate, and harvest fruit used in Tree Top products and ingredients. We work with our growers to provide transparency and traceability from the field to the shelf, bridging the gap so people can understand where and how their food is grown. Visit our video resource library to learn more about our growers and how our fruit is grown and processed.

If you are interested in learning how fruit and vegetable ingredients can aid in formulating your mix-ins project - check out the healthy topper sample formulas here.