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How can pet food brands respond to sustainability requirements?



how can pet food brands respond to sustainability requirements?

A survey of global consumers shows that many believe companies are most responsible for addressing sustainability issues like increasing the amount of recycled packaging or reducing emissions from aviation – more responsibly than governments or consumers themselves.

This is what the new Mintel Sustainability Barometer, a report from the survey, says. In addition to the 48% of consumers worldwide who say businesses are most responsible for sustainability (compared to 25% for consumers or 20% for governments), 44% say the country they live in depends on Climate change is affected, but only 33% on average believe their country is contributing.

“There appears to be a sustainability gap – a striking difference between consumers’ experiences with the causes of climate change and the reality of accountability,” said Richard Cope, senior trends consultant at Mintel. “One of the great challenges for companies and brands is to effectively close this understanding gap in order to better position their products and services as part of the sustainability solution. This requires more education about uncomfortable realities if more consumers are to grapple with problems and environmentally friendly products. “

The survey highlighted some of the ways companies and brands can best reach out to consumers about sustainability. In terms of what encourages them to buy products or services that are said to be good for or protect the environment, respondents said that they most want information about how their purchase would have a direct impact (e.g. one tree planted per purchase), followed by a label to show the environmental impact of the product, such as its CO2 emissions, the amount of water used or the distance traveled to the consumer.

Environmental footprint labels on animal feed

These survey results can provide insights for pet food companies and brands, although one challenge (not limited to just pet food) is the lack of standardization in measuring carbon footprint. Even if there is a robust methodology such as life cycle analysis (LCA), there has not yet been any standardization in our industry on how to carry out one. (For more insight into pet food life cycle assessments, check out this webinar, How Sustainability Affects Pet Food Ingredients and Packaging, where Heather Acuff, Product Development Manager at Nulo Pet Food, provides an overview of the LCA framework.)

Achieving sustainability-related information on labels could be key as consumers increasingly focus on it, as the environmental footprint of pet food has come under fire from mainstream media, environmental organizations and others. The main culprit, according to most of these reviews, is sources of protein from animals, especially farm animals. (Pet food suppliers who use other sources of protein also often include this in their marketing strategies and materials.)

The “evidence” they often cite is a 2017 study by Gregory S. Okin of the University of California Los Angeles that allegedly shows that “the consumption of animal products by dogs and cats accounts for the releases of up to 64 ± 16 million Tons of CO2 equivalent is responsible ”. Methane and nitrous oxide, two powerful greenhouse gases. “

Although several conclusions from Okin’s research, particularly some of the assumptions he made in conducting it, have been debunked by animal feed experts and related organizations, these documents are not found or reported in most of the articles citing the Okin study. (Or maybe they are being devalued as an industry bias.)

Do conventional pet food proteins deserve a high carbon footprint?

Recently, an expert on the sustainability of proteins in pet food, Kelly S. Swanson, Ph.D., Professor of Comparative Nutrition and Nutrigenomics at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, elaborated on other assumptions about these protein sources and how they are used in pet food. During a chat from Ask the Pet Food Pro about novel proteins, he said that a life cycle assessment to calculate a product’s carbon footprint is in many cases based on human food.

“Unfortunately, I think some people will give the same values,” he said. For example: “If you have meat and bone meal versus a sirloin steak, we clearly know that these are different products. They are from different cuts and you have the bone there, but some people give them the same carbon footprint because it came from a cow. I think I disagree with this philosophy if we use secondary products, especially in domestic animals, livestock or aquaculture, that is really an honor for the human food industry. “

In other words, if half of an animal’s carcass does not end up in human food production but is used in pet food or some other feed, it is a sustainable use of the whole animal. “I think it doesn’t deserve the same footprint,” said Swanson.

In his paper, Okin highlighted this concept that pet food contributes to sustainability by using by-products (or, as Swanson calls them, secondary products) from human animal husbandry. “The argument that the ecological and energetic effects of dogs and cats are avoided by ingesting by-products of the human food system and that the material would otherwise be wasted is based on the assumption that these by-products cannot be produced after appropriate processing be fit for human consumption, ”wrote Okin.

The fact is, of course, they are Not Made suitable because most of us humans in the western world refuse to eat them! (Okin didn’t mention this in his paper.)

However, there is consensus with Okin on human-grade proteins in pet food; Swanson pointed to their lack of sustainability in his previous research. I think Swanson and others would also agree with Okin’s conclusion that overeating – the increasing incidence of obesity in pets – increases the carbon footprint of pet food.

The power of upcycling in pet food

Finding a common ground for sustainability, whether in pet food or in general, is difficult in part due to the lack of standardization of measurements and methods. Some progress has been made in pet food since Okin’s study: In 2018, the FEDIAF (the European pet food industry association) published rules and guidelines for the ecological footprint of various products (quoted by Acuff in their webinar presentation). And more recently, the Pet Sustainability Coalition (PSC) worked with Iowa State University to study the carbon footprint of protein sources for pet food.

Much research is still needed, and we hope that work will soon be available and as widespread as the Okin study. Meanwhile, pet food has strong sustainability – first, with the protein components that are by-products of animal production for humans. Unfortunately, in the past, they have received negative and misleading reputations (sometimes inspired by marketing messages from pet food companies themselves) on pet food review sites for not being nutritious or of good quality, when in fact they are highly digestible, tasty, and nutritious for dogs and cats.

Perhaps the bad rap can be overcome by referring to such ingredients as by-products instead, as Swanson does, or by referring to their use with a popular new term: upcycling. Yes, it’s a buzzword now, but it could have a lasting impact thanks to the growing number of sustainability-conscious consumers.

Swanson created this link during the Ask the Pet Food Pro chat. “The pet food industry has been doing a kind of upcycling since its inception, using things that other people did not see as human food. And again in the US we don’t eat certain things that are consumed in other parts of the world. So we have to think about it like that. “

Note: Caitlyn Dudas, Executive Director and Co-Founder of PSC, will present information from her protein study for pet food at the Petfood Forum 2021, while Aurelie de Ratuld, Ph.D., CSR Director of Diana Pet Food, on LCAs and Swanson. speaks will lead a panel discussion on fresh and humane pet food.




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New pet food launches recover, focus on health



new pet food launches recover, focus on health

I recently wrote about the post-COVID-19 pet food market could be ripe for innovation, in part because new product development has lagged in 2020 amid all the disruption caused by the pandemic. The delay appeared to be manifested in data from Mintel on new pet food launches, which showed a decrease of about 67% from 2019 to 2020.

The data was presented in a webinar by Max Davis, Business Unit Manager for the filling and closing systems of Waldner North America; I’ve seen the same diagram elsewhere. However, the 2020 data point of 169 pet food launches compared to 510 in 2019 can be misleading; that earlier number likely did not hold for all of 2020.

According to recent Mintel data released by TreeTop, an ingredient supplier, in its report, Pet Food Market Trends July 2021, the segmentation of the data after a 12 month period from June 2020 to May 2021 paints a different picture: In During that period, new pet food launches rebounded to reach 569, an increase of nearly 5% over the previous twelve month period June 2019 to May 2020 from 543 launches – a decrease from the previous twelve month period June 2018 of 562 through May 2019 Market launches, but only by about 3%.

My guess is that the 169 number shown by Davis and others for 2020 was mostly from the beginning of the year through May; Obviously, with the pandemic and lockdowns, new product development lagged and pet food companies focused on making their existing products and shipping them to pets and their owners. Regardless of any discrepancies in numbers or reporting periods, it is encouraging to see that new pet food launches will resume later in 2020 and into the first half of 2021, which supports the idea that pet food was and is indeed ripe for innovation .

Pet owners, new pet foods and treats are the focus of health / wellness

More importantly, the new Mintel data in the TreeTop report (who worked with Michael Sellitto, Associate Editor of the Mintel Global New Products Database) provided a helpful overview of some of the key ingredients in recent pet food launches that pet owners are looking for.

For example, 98 new pet food products had all-natural claims between June 2020 and May 2021, compared to 88 and 89 in the previous two 12-month periods. This may have been a response to the pandemic and how it led consumers to focus on the health and wellbeing of their own and their families, including furry members, as some people see “natural” foods and products for healthier people keep.

Accordingly, in a survey by Mintel / TreeTop in March 2021, health and wellness statements on pet food and treats aroused great interest among US pet owners. A healthy digestion was at the top of the list with 58% of the respondents, closely followed by muscles, joints and bones with 52%, skin / coat health with 49%, support of the immune system with 46% and heart / cardiovascular system with 40% . Other health and wellness claims selected by respondents included weight management, calming / anxiety relief, brain / cognitive support, vision support, and energy boost.

The influence of human food is back at play

As TreeTop supplies fruit ingredients to the pet food market, the report highlighted the leading fruits appearing in new pet foods from June 2018 to May 2021, according to the Mintel database. Lingonberry, blueberry, and apple took the top three spots on the list, far surpassing other fruits such as banana, carob, pomegranate, and others. Interestingly, the use of these top three fruits decreased quite a bit between June 2020 and May 2021.

Perhaps even more interesting, the use of certain flavors in new pet foods and treats has increased significantly since June 2018. Pumpkin / squash rose 500% in the three years from then to May 2021, and a similar flavor, sweet potato / kumara, increased 300%. Bacon / lard / pancetta / bacon & cheese, cheese, and blueberry and peanut butters all rose 200%. Unsurprisingly, these are all flavors and ingredients that have grown in popularity for human foods over the same period. If bacon / lard / pancetta / bacon & cheese isn’t a taste and trend influenced by human nutrition, I don’t know what!

Mintel’s data showed that this flavor accounted for only 1.9% of new pet food and treats launches over the three year period, while peanut butter (alone) accounted for 3.4%. The most popular flavors – no surprise here either – were chicken with 15.1% of new launches and beef with 7.3%. By comparison, another protein source, salmon, accounted for 3.1% of new product launches.

The percentages for protein sources are also pretty much in line with human diets, in my opinion, although the strong likes and needs of dogs and cats for such flavors and ingredients (or at least their owners’ perceptions) have likely also played a strong role in pet food’s taste selection Manufacturers for their new products.




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US Millennials Adopted Pets at Highest Rate in Pandemic



us millennials adopted pets at highest rate in pandemic

Adapted to a press release:

Quotient, a digital media and advertising technology company, released insights into the pet adoption boom last year and its impact on brands and retailers in the year ahead. In a survey of 1,000+ U.S. cat and dog owners aged 18 and over, 33% said they adopted a pet during the pandemic. To get a significant cross-section of the data, Quotient also pulled in internal social and sales data showing how consumer shopping habits for pet products had changed during the pandemic.

The survey shows that of the people who adopted pets during the pandemic, 52% were male and 48% were female. Additionally, the survey found that millennials were the most likely to adopt during the pandemic, with 43% contributing to the fur baby boom. While millennials mostly adopted pets for children / other family members who had wanted one, 32% of Generation Z adopted a pet to improve their mental health.

“With the introduction of furry companions during the pandemic, we saw interesting consumer buying trends for groceries, gifts, treats and more,” said Steven Boal, CEO of Quotient. “These animals have and will influence consumer purchasing behavior long after the pandemic. This gives retailers and brands an opportunity to understand the ongoing needs of their customers – and their pets – and provide them with value. ”

When pandemic restrictions in the US were eased, Quotient asked dog and cat owners which top 3 items they would like to spend the most money on on their pet in the next 12 months. It’s no surprise that food and medication / pet care are going to create the biggest hole in consumer wallets.

Pandemic affected human-pet relationships

The past year has been a time when many consumers stayed home and spent less, but that didn’t necessarily apply to pet owners. Almost a sixth of those surveyed usually feed their dogs and cats with gourmet and / or subscription catering services. Younger generations are even more willing to feed their pets premium strains. This supports Quotient’s internal data, which also showed that pets eat premium. Sales of non-dry dog ​​food – including wet and damp dog foods, which tend to be more expensive – has increased by 25% compared to pre-COVID.

While most pet owners expect necessities like food and health care to dominate their spending, 11% believe clothing and accessories will be the most expensive in the next 12 months. This is not surprising as 78% of respondents consider their pet to be their best friend or family member. Their love and affection lingers through the different seasons of gift giving, with nearly half of those surveyed planning to treat their pooch with a Christmas surprise. Almost as many plan to get a birthday present.

Gotcha Day, a day to celebrate the anniversary of the adoption of a pet, is another major milestone, and respondents celebrating the day plan to spend an average of $ 87 on a gift to mark the occasion.

With the increase in dog and cat adoption during the pandemic, consumer shopping habits will change for the foreseeable future. This gives retailers and CPGs a unique opportunity to identify their customers’ new shopping needs.

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Is Pet Obesity Driving Pet Food Growth In Mexico?



is pet obesity driving pet food growth in mexico?

Obesity is an emerging and silent enemy that pet owners are typically unfamiliar with, especially in the developing pet food markets. According to a Triplethree International study of animal diseases in Mexico, in 2020 only 10% of dog owners said their dogs were overweight or obese.

However, actual obesity rates are likely to be higher than reported. According to Royal Canin’s Mexican Market website, at least 20% of dogs in developed markets are obese. This metric rules out the percentage of obese dogs that are even more difficult to measure and observe, especially in small and medium-sized breeds.

Surprisingly, the local veterinary community is not disclosing any information, data, or knowledge about the level of obesity in the Mexican pet population.

Relationship Between Pet Obesity and Pet Food Market Growth?

It’s not hard to see that pet obesity, in most cases, is due to excessive caloric intake for the pet’s energy needs. At the same time, it is important to understand the combination of factors that are driving growth in the pet food market. On the demand side, these factors are pet population, calorie penetration, and overfeeding.

As calorie penetration and pet populations increase in most Latin American markets, the industry may be ignoring the overfeeding effect.

Pet owners ignore the manufacturer’s feeding guidelines

Pet owners likely feed their pets according to the pet’s appetite rather than the manufacturer’s guidelines on pet food packaging labels. This often leads to overfeeding.

Triplethree International estimates that overfeeding of pet food accounts for between 1% and 1.5% of total pet food consumption in Mexico. That estimate is simply what is left of the growth rate after subtracting population growth and the increase in calorie penetration. In other words, if the market sold 1 million tons in a year, about 10 to 15 thousand tons of pet food would be due to overfeeding.

Overweight and obesity in Mexican dogs and cats may not be entirely critical today, but this problem could ultimately add to the cost of medical treatments, which could hinder or reshape the future development of Mexico’s pet food industry.

Iván Franco is the founder of Triplethree International and has contributed to hundreds of research projects for various consumer goods industries. He was named Global Consultant of the Year by Euromonitor International and is the author of the book 17 Market Strategies for Growth (in Spanish).

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