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Treats abound – from feel-good to fur-good

September 15, 2021 | 3 min read

Treats abound – from feel-good to fur-good

Dog treats have come a long way over the past few decades just in sheer number and variety. During the same period, treats moved from being an occasional indulgence or training aid to a daily functional delivery system. This change has come as people’s attitudes toward pets shifted towards more humanization. Pets are more often valued family members and COVID coworkers than working animals or guardians. All this preamble is to say — the dog treat segment of the petfood market is dynamic and enjoying brisk sales.

Last year dog treat retail sales increased 7.2% in the U.S. to $4.3 billion, according to Sundale research. This follows a 5.8% rise in 2019. As part of total 2020 dog food retail sales, dog treats represent 22.2%, a bump up from 20.6% in 2015. Going forward, the analysts at Sundale estimate “slightly slower growth” for dog treat sales. Growth this year is estimated at 6.3% to total $4.57 billion. And from 2020 to 2025, average growth of dog treat retail sales is estimated at 5.1% per annum. This will equal $5.52 billion in 2025 and account for 23.5% of all dog food sales.

Rewarding + functional

What’s fueling growth in dog treats? Health & wellness, clean labels, ingredient transparency, traceability…sound familiar? Of course, they do. They’re the same trends we see in human food and beverages. The same concerns people have about their own food are naturally mirrored in their pet food selections. “What’s good for me is good for my cherished pet.”

Whether reward or functional food, dog treats offer a way for people to strengthen the emotional bond they have with their animals. There will always be a segment of dog treat sales devoted to mere indulgence. But there’s a fast-growing segment of functional treats that address everything from oral care to joint health and environmental stress. Treats provide an easy delivery system for functional ingredients as opposed to pills or powders. No measuring or subterfuge necessary. And they taste good, so they’re more appealing to both parents and pets.

Functional treats offer people a way to take preventive health measures for their pets. As people look to strengthen their own immune/digestive/joint health, they are looking to do the same for their pets. Sector analysts attribute the uptick in functional treat sales to the pandemic as well as to the rising cost of vet bills. See our Pet Food Market Trends Newsletter for more information on growth in functional health for pet food. 

Let’s not forget the consumer expectation for treats to be made with natural, wholesome ingredients that are easily understood on a label and without preservatives or additives. High-quality ingredients with perceived health benefits are appealing pet owners. Having a sustainability story is a bonus.

On the horizon

What’s in the pipeline to spur future dog treat sales?

  • human-quality ingredients
  • exotic proteins
  • ·natural and grain-free varieties
  • clean labels and transparency
  • CBD (cannabidiol) for its calming effects + pain management

In case you think the last bulleted item is a stretch, Sundale Research reported 2020 sales for CBD pet products at about $425 million in the U.S. with an estimated increase of 45% projected for this year.

Fruit for function

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the functional benefits of fruit from the obvious fiber and phytonutrients to the less so – antioxidants, phenolics, vitamins and minerals. Our Tree Top fruit ingredients can offer digestive benefits, as well as anti-inflammatory ones. I invite you to speak with our R&D folks about the application work they’ve done formulating treats with our fruit ingredients. Beyond the wellness benefits, fruit ingredients can offer natural color, moisture and more to formulations. Consider trying our newest ingredient – super nutritious, pumpkin powder in your next dog treat. Contact us

Stop by and get your sample of our pumpkin powder at the Petfood Forum 2021 / Kansas City, MO / September 22-24, 2021 – Booth # 1007

Request a Sample

Looking for bench quality samples to help with your formulation requirements? Connect with us and we’d be happy to send some your way.

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