Consumer gut health trends reach pet food sector

83 percent of pet owners are highly concerned with the digestive health of their pet

With two thirds (78 percent) of people globally saying that digestive health is ‘extremely’ or ‘very important’ to them, it is clear that consumers are becoming more familiar with the gut microbiome and its influence on the body. This is being reflected in pet care. In fact, when asked about a range of health concerns that can benefit from dietary changes in a recent BENEO pet food survey, digestive health – such as stool consistency and flatulence – came out on top for 95.3 percent of pet owners. In addition, 83 percent of respondents said that they are highly concerned with the digestive health of their pet; with 46 percent saying it is ‘extremely important’ and 36 percent that it is ‘very important’.

Food rather than medication the preferred way to manage digestive health

Foods which claim to support digestive health are the preferred way to look after the digestive health of pets as opposed to medication. With 58 percent of owners always or frequently choosing foods to improve their pets digestion and only nine percent using medication to solve digestive difficulties. In addition, the digestive health claims that pet owners most prefer on-pack are ones that refer to ‘supporting a healthy and balanced digestive system’ and ‘promoting digestive health naturally’, as these tie into consumer’s key motivations for all things healthy and natural.

Pet owners’ perceptions of key ingredients

With the clean label trend continuing to put the spotlight on consumer product ingredients, it is no surprise that pet owners are increasingly focused on ingredients labels. When asked which ingredients pet owners considered healthy for their pets, rice is seen as ‘very healthy’ or ‘healthy’ by 50 percent of people, followed by corn (37 percent) and wheat (36 percent). Owners were asked to choose which ingredients seemed the most healthy/natural to them. Unsurprisingly, the top ranked ingredients were those with names that referred to natural and known ingredients, such as rice protein, chicory root fibre, which sounds natural to 64 percent and ‘prebiotic’ sounding healthy to 68 percent.

With such a focus on health and wellbeing and cleaner label products, functional ingredients such as BENEO’s chicory root prebiotic fibres, rice proteins and starches are proving very popular with pet food manufacturers. As well as promoting digestive health, these functional ingredients have a wide range of other technical and nutritional benefits that can help pet owners to manage their animal’s weight, improve hair quality and promote healthier, happy pets.

There is a significant opportunity for new product development for pet food manufacturers over the coming years, but the key to success for manufacturers will be in choosing the right functional ingredients that communicate the messages that owners want to hear. Working closely with experienced functional ingredients providers, will enable manufacturers to deliver more on-trend products that promote digestive health to a global audience of animal lovers.

BENEO-Animal Nutrition is a pet food manufacturer which offers a broad range of natural ingredients with nutritional benefits. The product range is comprised of vegetable proteins, digestible carbohydrates and prebiotic chicory root fibres. BENEO-Animal Nutrition extends BENEO’s unique expertise in human food to the world of pet food, livestock feed and aqua feed

This feature was first published in the November 2018 issue of Pet Gazette

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