Your say: 2019’s pet sector trends

Within any market, what is popular will change with the seasons, years and values of society, and to be fully prepared and remain successful it’s important to stay on top of what the consumers want and deem important.

According to a survey commissioned by Michelson Found Animals Foundation, the lines between human and pet trends will continue to blur in 2019. This has already been evidenced in the slow and ever increasing humanisation of the pet care sector. The survey suggests that technology, alternative therapies and food will be the major trends for the sector.

The survey indicates pet owners will be making more use of technology to assist in pet parenting, where that be through wearable fitness trackers, surveillance cameras or apps to connect them to the pet owning community. It also says owners will continue to focus on particular diets for their pets which have already become more prevalent over the years, such as the vegan, organic and raw diets. Alternative therapies may be on the rise as well, which can already be seen by the introduction of CBD and hemp-based products to the market.

While the findings of the survey are good indicators for what’s to come, the industry always has its own opinions on what may be to come for the year ahead. Here are some of your predictions.

Dr Jacqueline Boyd, nutritional consultant at pet food brand, Skinner’s Pet Foods:

Dr Jacqueline Boyd

“Over the last two decades, there has been an interesting change in pet foods. Consumers are increasingly making pet food choices based on their own lifestyles, aspirations, health choices and perceptions of what is healthy for their pet. This directly correlates with the increased humanisation of companion animals, and their status as family members becoming more pronounced. There are many reasons for this shift, including the rise of the single person household and changes in the “typical” family unit, as well as increased affluence and personal awareness of health and nutrition. As a result, we increasingly see pet food consumer trends follow human food trends; low carbohydrate, high protein, “clean” eating, fresh/raw foods, no additives and so on.

“This trend is however, a bit of a double-edged sword. Critical consumers help push manufacturers to be more transparent and open about their sourcing of ingredients, processing methods. This also promotes the application and integration of ongoing research, and the development of quality products. Manufacturers thus need to remain alert and responsive both to current nutritional science and consumer demands and trends. The downside can be that sometimes the desire to market to human desires and perceptions means that robust nutritional science is ignored or given less credence in the pursuit of marketing. Maintaining a balanced approach of transparency, knowledge dissemination based on facts, attractive marketing and the application of current science relating to pet nutrition, is key in a dynamic industry.”

Ashley Burdock, commercial manager at protein supplier to the pet trade, SARVAL:

“No longer the afterthought of the weekly shop, pet food has become a thriving and diversified industry driven largely by the same values and expectations that consumers place on their own nutrition. According to Innova Market Insights, protein content, variety, snacks and personalised nutrition are all key trends for both consumer and pet food manufacturers in 2019. A significant rise in premium pet food sales, particularly products marketed as fresh, organic, ‘gourmet’ or single-serve, attests to this.

“The ethical and sustainable provenance of pet food ingredients will also be a key concern for manufacturers. A growing number of brands now promote claims related to ingredient sourcing and animal welfare, but the sustainable and economical use of raw materials is becoming increasingly important.

“As consumer awareness of pet food quality expands, so too will our investment in the processing techniques and technologies that manufacturers need to harness this fast-paced, evolving sector.”

Rob Steele, marketing manager at training and lifestyle manufacturer, PetSafe Brand (Europe, Australia, Canada):

Rob Steele

Technology will be a key trend for our business and the pet industry overall in 2019, led by consumer demand for tech solutions across all areas of pet care – from health, to waste management, training and play. As consumers’ lives become increasingly connected and busy we anticipate we’ll see new innovations to support these changing lifestyles.”

Poppy Sutton, buying manager at equestrian and pet supply store, Millbry Hill:

“Younger people in particular are becoming more health and eco-conscious, so it’s only natural that they’ll consider these factors when buying pet products. Manufacturers and suppliers may therefore benefit from focusing on more ethical and sustainable ways of making pet food which still give animals a complete and balanced diet. This could include broadening ranges of vegetarian and vegan alternatives, or simply using companies who source their ingredients locally and organically. And, with a rise in consumers demanding more environmentally-friendly packaging, there is also a lot of scope to be getting on board with this aspect of it all.

“Social media platforms like Instagram are also making it easier for us to observe the pride people are taking in their pets, with aesthetics seemingly becoming increasingly important. With this in mind, I predict it’s only a matter of time before the sector sees a significant rise in the purchase of accessories that are not only of high quality but look nice as well.  From this, I anticipate that pet owners will be willing to pay more to get the best for their pets, but brands will need to ensure they can justify them as being so.”

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