More pet owners are choosing food that is packed with health benefits

Nutrition, functionality drive pet food sales

Consumers aren’t just scrutinizing the ingredient labels on their own food these days — they’re paying closer attention to what goes into every kibble for Fido as well.

“Raw” pet foods and natural, organic and grain-free, specialty varieties of dog and cat food with perceived health benefits are helping the category maintain a steep upward trajectory. More and more of the newest pet foods, treats and supplements also tout specific functionality through the inclusion of ingredients that benefit digestion or joint health, for example.

“Increasing health consciousness among pet owners has given rise to health-driven food options for pets such as fortified food products, nutraceuticals and functional food products,” concludes a recent report from Sandler Research. “A growing number of pet products are being promoted as products containing added vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, all-natural ingredients and no preservatives, artificial colors or flavors.”

The report projects that the overall pet care market will see sales volumes increase at a 4.72% compound annual growth rate through 2020, driven in part by the willingness of pet owners to pay more for these types of specialty pet foods.

Jonathan Clinthorne, nutrition education specialist supervisor at Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage, Lakewood, Colo., says more and more shoppers are seeking the same health benefits for their pets that they want for themselves, which attracts them to such products as grain-free pet food. “It seems that pet owners are recognizing the negative health effects of consuming too many carbohydrates aren't just applicable to humans,” he says.

“We also recognize that many pet owners who are worried about the health of their pets are looking at high-quality food just as they would for their own food,” says Clinthorne. “The more high-quality pet food options we can provide, the better.”

Many pet owners, he says, are concerned about allergic reactions and other adverse health effects from certain pet food ingredients, and they are also paying closer attention to the sources of the protein in their pets’ diets.

“Having a wide selection of different foods that are based off of different animal proteins is very important to meeting our customers' needs, so that they can find a food that works well for their pet,” says Clinthorne.

Pet foods and supplements fortified with specific “nutritional interventions” aimed at promoting health are also popular, he says.
“I would say the two biggest members of this category are joint health supplements and probiotics for pets,” says Clinthorne. “Often these supplements are administered in fortified treats.”


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