While pet parents used to primarily seek out pet supplements to address conditions such as joint pain, anxiety or coat and skin health issues such as dryness and itching, there is an increasing market trend of placing pet supplements skewed towards preventive care in the wider context of greater wellbeing and functionality.
Probiotics and postbiotics
A study from pet nutrition company ADM has been trying to uncover the benefits of gut microbiome supplements for pets and their potential applications across immune function and digestive, metabolic, oral, skin and behavioral health.
Nutramax and ADM’s probiotic supplement brand, ADM Protexin, was pushed internationally to European and a number of Asia-Pacific (APAC) markets in 2023 after recognition of a global demand for science-based probiotic formulas.
One of the reasons behind the popularization of these products in the market are the benefits of these supplements in humans. Korean human probiotic company Duolac recently launched a lactic acid bacteria supplement for pets. Health supplement manufacturer Ildong Foodis has expanded its supplement portfolio to include a combined pre- and probiotic for pets and British start-up Tuggs launched a mealworm treat with added probiotics.
Aimia Pet Health, a research partner with pet health and wellness company Better Choice, has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Canadian clinical research company KGK Science to develop a supplement for pets using GLP1, an ingredient targeted at preventing obesity and therefore ailments associated with overweight pets. The output of the research is expected to be integrated into Halo, Better Choice’s supplement brand.
Insiders agree that there is also an uptick in interest for pet products in the areas of immunity and anti-aging.
A good example is California-based dietary supplement and food ingredient company ChromaDex’s pet supplements containing niagen, under the brand name Tru Niagen. Through a partnership with Zesty Paws to move into the pet supplement category, the company launched supplements for “healthy aging” last year.
Commonly used in human anti-aging products, niagen is an alternative form of vitamin B3, which fosters production of the NAD+ coenzyme that aids cellular processes like mitochondrial function, cellular energy production and DNA repair.
Anti-inflammatory and anti-allergen
Skin and coat issues are common in pets and supplements are rising in popularity alongside more traditional dermatological shampoos. Neil Pullar, Managing Director of UK pet supplement company PetExx, notes that those containing ingredients such as apple cider vinegar, bromelain and quercetin are becoming more popular among pet parents.
Substances such as bromelain and quercetin target inflammation and promote organ health, aiming to prevent itching, dry skin and inflammation-related issues, as well as allergies. Additionally, all-round wellness ingredients like green lipped mussels, pumpkin powder and turmeric are increasingly popular.
An increase in demand for these supplements has driven a closer look at production. Experts are drawing attention towards a factor that will influence the supplement industry in the near future: the use of unregulated ingredient supply from China.
“Far too many brands use cheap ingredients from countries like China where heavy metal contamination is prevalent,” admits Seth Kaufman, co-founder and Partner at BSM Partners, a veterinary and nutritional advisory firm. Yet, some manufacturers continue to opt for them as a low-cost solution.
Many of these pipelines are untraceable to the Chinese supplier as products are often exported under labels such as electronics or other supplies. Kaufman points towards a rise in product recalls and food safety issues that are a feature of the present market. The rapid category growth, especially in markets such as the US, is likely to prompt stricter regulation. “No one likes more regulation, but we believe that pet supplements need more to ensure that products meet the promises that pet parents rightly expect,” he concludes.
Kaufman forecasts that the next generation of pet supplements may follow similar trends as human products with a focus on anti aging, brain health and immunity.
In terms of long-drawn trends in the making, Pullar from PetExx concludes that constant innovations in the “format of delivery” of supplements, for instance in the shape of chews or treats rather than capsules and tablets, will further develop in the near future as palatability drives consumer purchases.
Pullar also points out that the future of the category lies in its affordability through shifts in the retail channel. By removing a veterinarian focus from dispensing supplements, consumers stand to make cost savings.
The segment in a nutshell
According to Euromonitor International, the global pet dietary supplements industry experienced a yearly growth of 7% in the past 5 years and was estimated to represent $2.1 billion (€1.92B) in 2023.
While North America held its position for being the highest retail value market ($834M/€762M), Asia Pacific ($637M/€582M) overtook Western Europe ($510M/€466M) to become one of the fastest growing regions last year.
A survey from MarketPlace concluded that 33% of pet parents in the US reported spending over an hour researching vitamins or minerals in the past year. The same research concluded that soft chews are the preferred product in the category, with more than 5 out of 10 pet owners purchasing them.
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