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Will zero tolerance for salmonella in pet food ever change?

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will zero tolerance for salmonella in pet food ever change?

Long before the U.S. Food Modernization and Safety Act came into effect, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced zero tolerance levels for Salmonella in pet food. This was in response to several cases of salmonellosis in people who came into contact with contaminated dry dog ​​food in the 2000s.

Of course, these cases, in which salmonella became ill and even caused deaths in humans, were very alarming and should have been prevented by strict safety and hygiene measures in the animal feed plants concerned. For many in the industry, however, the zero tolerance level seemed like a draconian response. There are more than 2,000 serotypes of Salmonella, so the pathogen is found almost everywhere in the environment and almost all human food categories have at least a tiny tolerance for Salmonella. Was it correct that pet food was apparently singled out?

A longtime expert in animal feed safety and quality – Michele Sayles, Ph.D., chief executive officer of food safety and technology at Diamond Pet Foods – was at the warehouse earlier and said no, the FDA guidelines made no sense. But since then she has believed it’s a level, “we have to be ready,” she said during an Ask the Pet Food Pro Zoom chat about pet food recalls on April 28, 2021. “For many of my colleagues who know me, me say this often: we make baby foods that we feed randomly to dogs. “

Salmonella: very low presence, usually not harmful to pets

Since the FDA first issued its zero tolerance policy, there have been dozens and dozen of pet food recalls based on detection of salmonella – sometimes not even in the pet food itself, but in the facility that made it has been. Raw pet food in particular has pushed the agency’s review so far that one company even sued the FDA over the directive in 2019.

Dry pet food has certainly not escaped the salmonella recall curse over the years. In fact, there were at least three recalls of dry products in 2021 alone based on the detection of the pathogen.

The standout perception for many industry members is also based on the fact that pets themselves – the intended end users of pet food – rarely get sick from ingesting salmonella. It is a human health problem that is critical, but is it the responsibility of the industry if even most human food or facilities may contain microscopic amounts of the pathogen, but are acceptable?

The concentrations that can be detected in animal feed crops or products are also typically microscopic. “Early on, I would say, as an industry about 10 years ago, we looked at how much Salmonella really was out there,” said Sayles when asked about her assessment of the FDA’s zero tolerance level and whether it was was likely to change. “When you look at dry extruded pet food, we’re talking about 10% moisture or less and very low water activity. These are usually not products that aid the growth of pathogens, much less salmonella.

“Well, if we get a positive result [detection level] How much salmonella is there really in the field? “She continued. “When we went back and actually did some bullet-up work, the industry found that the level of salmonella that is present when a dry extruded pet product shows a suspected or positive test is actually extremely low. And we’re talking about a fraction of a cell: 0.1 colony-forming units per gram of food. So there are hardly a few cells in this organism “in total.

Such a low score, she added, that the pet is usually not likely to be causing any side effect.

“When we make human food, we happen to be feeding pets”

Over the next 10 years, what made Sayles believe that FDA policy will stay here? After years of discussion in the industry and with the FDA, government officials made a pretty tough assessment, she said. “The FDA said you want to tell your customer that a little is okay? Well, it may be fine for my dog, but for my 2 year old who could potentially go into the dog food bowl and have some nibble, two to three cells of salmonella could be harmful? Typically, depending on the Salmonella strain, probably not. But there are over 2,000 strains of Salmonella, and most of these different strains have varying levels of virulence. There are some strains where fewer than 10 cells can be very harmful.

“Again, I was in that camp thinking, gosh, zero tolerance just doesn’t seem right for the industry because we know the levels are so low,” continued Sayles. “Unfortunately, it’s harder to justify when our industry isn’t just tasked with protecting pets. We must also protect the pet parents as well as the pet parent’s children – their real children, human children, as well as their fuzzy children. “

Despite all of the scientific evidence and data showing the extremely low levels of salmonella in pet foods or facilities, the FDA’s zero tolerance policy is not being lifted, Sayles said. “How do you justify at the end of the day between the pet and the human? That’s the mentality many of us have now: We don’t just make pet food. We make human food that we randomly feed to pets. So this is the level we have to stand by. “

Editor’s note: Ask the Pet Food Pro is a series of zoom chats presented by the Petfood Forum that include questions and answers and discussions with an expert in the pet food industry on a specific topic. The next chat is planned for May 25, 2021. Ryan Yamka, Ph.D., founder of Luna Science and Nutrition, answers questions about pet food transparency.

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How to build loyalty in the new consumer landscape

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how to build loyalty in the new consumer landscape

The massive economic disruption in 2020 resulted in some significant changes in how consumers treat brands, not just in terms of product purchase, but also in terms of research, communication, and yes, loyalty. The good news is that all of these changes give brands an opportunity to rethink and optimize their strategies for the future.

“The truly unique opportunity we have as brands is being in an environment where anything is possible,” said Amy Wills, vice president of marketing effectiveness at global research firm GfK. “As marketers, we know that sometimes it’s incredibly difficult to disrupt a market. This is a situation where we had a major disruption and it opened the door for a lot of innovative thinking to create and develop your product offering. “Wills spoke at a GfK webinar in April 2021:” How brands can gain consumer confidence in the new market. “

Customization and Recovery: Know Your Consumers Now

The return to the “normal” is an instinct that brands have to fight against, according to Eric Wagatha, head of GfK Consumer Life (NA), who also spoke during the webinar.

“If your discussion is,” How do we get back to normal? “You miss the point,” said Wagatha.

According to GfK, different population groups are recovering from the current global crisis at different times. While 57% of consumers overall said they would be cautious about going out (and likely resuming personal shopping), there are differences in the way younger and older populations currently live. Slightly more than half of consumers said they lived normally, with the younger population group tending more towards this answer, while a little less than half said they lived very differently, with the older population group tending more in this direction.

“When we have crises like this, there is an adjustment phase and a recovery phase,” said Wagatha. It is important for brands to understand what stage consumers are in and what those stages mean for different people.

The 18-35 Year Olds: Win Them Today to Keep Them Tomorrow

The 18- to 35-year-olds are the age group in which brand loyalty is low, but openness to new products is high. This group is at a time in their life when they are experimenting with brands and trying to figure out what will suit them best so that they know what to spend their money on as they settle into a household routine.

“We cannot ignore that the future is that cohort, in size and in purchasing power,” Wagatha said.

It is not surprising that, according to GfK, this population group is more likely to deviate from a favorite brand than the average, but interestingly, they are less likely to buy anything that is convenient or cheaper. Additionally, when it comes to loyalty traits like secure data usage, excellent customer service, and money saving, they are below average.

All of this is certainly enough to keep brands busy.

“It’s not about focusing on one, two or three aspects, but realizing that loyalty has more dimensions,” said Wagatha.

If you want your branding strategy to succeed in the current climate, it’s time to look ahead.

“Don’t just scroll back and try to replicate what used to work. Expand your lens and see how you can move forward, ”Wills said.

Solid advice for brands and solid advice in general.

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Animal populations exceeded the S&P500 by 48% in 2020. Freshpet up 127%

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animal populations exceeded the s&p500 by 48% in 2020. freshpet

The listed pet food companies outperformed the S&P500 stock index in 2020. The investment bank Cascadia Capital follows an index of listed stocks in the pet industry. The core group of the Cascadia Index outperformed the S&P 500 by 48% in 2020. The growth of the pet food industry accelerated in the second half of 2020 and increased gradually by 18% in the first half. Cascadia market analysts reviewed the performance of these pet food manufacturers and retailers in their report, Pet Industry Overview: Spring 2021.

According to Cascadia’s analysis, not all pet food companies achieved the same earnings per share. Emerging, high-growth pet food stocks that reflect the value of growth in public markets relative to earnings.

Pet food company with strong equity growth in 2020:

Adjusted earnings for pet food companies on the Cascadia Index have doubled over the past two years, while value for money has increased 28%. Most of the companies in the index saw their share price appreciate positively, reflecting the persistence of the sector during the ongoing pandemic.

Overall, 2020 was the strongest year for Cascadia’s pet food industry index after the great recession. Adjusted earnings increased 77.7% in 2020 compared to 27.6% in 2019. Revenue increased 10.0% in 2020 compared to 7.7% in 2019, representing a growth of 13.2% in the second half of 2020.

Two examples of pet food companies in 2020

The history of the growth of the pet food industry has been more complex than its simple general expansion. In the reports, Cascadia presented the examples of Nestle Purina PetCare, FreshPet and JM Smucker. Purina recorded organic growth of 10.2% in 2020. This contributed to an annual CAGR of 6.2% over the past four years. Growth in international markets drove this increase, while in the US Purina’s market share in all pet food and treat categories declined, with dog food declining 181 basis points and cat food 116 basis points
and handles 57 bps.

By comparison, the JM Smucker pet food division grew 4.1% in the period ended January 31, 2021, although profitability increased 0.1%, largely driven by a legal settlement. Smucker pet profitability declined 8.1% in the second half of 2020, after rising 9.4% in the first half. During the pandemic, Smucker cat food gained market share while dog food lost ground.

Chilled dog and cat food maker Freshpet saw sales grow 30% in 2020. E-commerce became more important for the company. Online sales now total 4.9%. These online sales were broken down into 55% click and collect, 34% last mile delivery, and 11% online delivery.

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Cats Are “Underserved”: Will the Pet Food Industry Fix This?

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cats are "underserved": will the pet food industry fix this?

At the recent pet retail trade shows that I attended in person before the world changed (i.e., the pandemic hit), I couldn’t help but notice the growing number of new cat food products entering the market. A notable example was Purina Pro Plan’s LiveClear, which was developed to help people with allergies to cats better tolerate living with them. This was just one of many new cat product launches over the past few years, including new companies and brands exclusively focused on cat food.

This is a positive response to consumer demand as research of Packaged Facts, also conducted before the pandemic (Summer 2019), showed that 44-51% of U.S. cat owners agreed that product manufacturers and various retail channels allowed cats to be second class citizens treated.

Or, as it says in a new report by the investment firm Cascadia Capital: “Cats are underserved.”

This made sense from a business and market perspective, as dog ownership has increased over the past decade compared to a flat growth in cat ownership. and dog owners tended to spend more on their pets. While cats are essentially all roughly the same size, dog sizes vary much more, with some larger breeds approaching the size of miniature horses. These dogs eat a lot more than cats. Additionally, dogs are much more likely to accompany their owners outside of the home, creating a larger market for leashes and collars, portable food and water containers, and even portable consumables like treats and dog food bars.

According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA) National Pet Owners Survey 2019-2020, dog owners, on average, spend more than 50% more on products and services for their pets annually than cat owners.

But will that all change?

The growth of the cat food market follows the growth of the cat population

The APPA data was cited by Bryan Jaffe, Managing Director of Cascadia Capital, in his report “Pet Industry Overview: Spring 2021”. His comments seemed to suggest that cats (and their owners) are getting more love from the pet industry. “Marketers have increased their focus on cats as the cat population grows over time and has longer lifespans,” he wrote.

Jaffe also shared data from IRI showing that in most U.S. retail channels, the number of cat food and treat brands increased from 2013 in 2018 to 249 years in 2021. This includes dry cat food, wet food, and treats. “The growing opportunity and increased focus on cats has led brands to move into the category,” the report said.

Such growth, and the increase in the persistence of the cat population mentioned by Jaffe, is due in part to the increased adoption of pets in the US and other developed markets caused by pandemics. In the US, the increase in adopted pets in current households who own pets was almost evenly split between cats and dogs: 19% of those households adopted cats in the last 12 months, according to a February 2021 survey by Packaged Facts, during 23% % of households added dogs. In terms of pet population growth in all U.S. households, cat ownership increased 5.1% in 2020.

Similar growth in pet ownership, including cat ownership, has been seen in other markets around the world. In some European countries, cats are more popular than dogs. In Germany, for example, cats make up 52% ​​of the domestic animal population, with 15.7 million cats living in 26% of all German households. This is based on data published in April 2021 by the WZF, the organizers of Interzoo. This corresponds to 10.7 million dogs in 21% of households.

As a result, cat food holds the largest share of the German pet food market and also recorded the highest growth in 2020 at 5.3%. According to WZF, the segment of cat treatments rose by 9.4%, followed by wet cat food with 5% and dry with 2.7%.

Wet cat food on the rise

As in Germany and other markets, wet cat food is also increasing in the US, with the segment’s share of the total cat food category increasing since 2018, according to data from IRI, which was quoted by Jaffe. In fact, as of April 2021, wet food took the top spot among cat food types at 42.6%, compared with 41.3% for dry food. Treats now make up 16.1% of the cat consumables category.

While wet pet food has grown in popularity and sales overall, the segment appears to offer a particularly strong opportunity for innovation in cats. They often prefer wet food (with the exception of my resident furry lunatic who doesn’t touch it); and because it is high in water, the format provides a way to ensure cats are well hydrated. This high moisture content also helps with satiety and helps control intake in overweight or obese cats.

Traditionally, the downside of wet food (for any type) is that many owners find metal cans inconvenient and messy to open and refrigerate. Innovations in this category are also addressing this problem as more brands are offering wet cat food in convenient plastic trays, often in single serving sizes, or in resealable tubs that can be warmed to room temperature, which many cats prefer.

Such an innovation should keep the wet cat food and cat food category in general thriving.

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