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.
Source * www.petfoodindustry.com – * Source link