Market researcher Mintel recently looked into some innovative products that could offer pet brands considerable leverage in years to come.
Sustainability is at the forefront of retailing today but only a handful of UK and European pet food brands launched products with environment related ethical claims in 2018.
Improving food packaging recycling is perhaps the most obvious route to sustainability. In the UK, Lily’s Kitchen leads the call for pet food companies to ‘ditch the pouch’. All of its dry pet food packaging is compostable including the seal, while the tins are completely recyclable. The brand uses aluminium trays for wet food, which – apart from the sticker – are fully recyclable, setting it apart from much of the rest of the market, where the use of flexible stand-up plastic pouches has become widespread.
Besides packaging, our love of the planet is having an impact in a whole host of ways. Take insect protein dog food. Still relatively rare, Green Petfood Sensitive Insect Dog Alleinfuttermittel für Ausgewachsene Hunde mit Insektenprotein und Reis (Adult Dog Food with Insect Protein & Rice) is made with 100% insect protein as the only animal source of protein.
Pet food would seem to be an obvious fit for insect protein, being less likely to trigger feelings of disgust than insect products made for human consumption. However, this food attracts only a minority interest, partly due to lack of familiarity. Emphasising health benefits, environmental credentials and high-protein levels offered by insect protein-based pet food is required to boost appeal.
With trends in the human food market often filtering down to pet food over time, mood food concepts have further potential in pet food. Increasing interest in botanical ingredients is promising for innovation using these ingredients in pet food.
In the UK, The Farm Kitchen Laughing Dog brand places a strong emphasis on dogs’ emotional wellbeing, supported by the use of such botanical ingredients. Its trio of complete wet food, for example, is said to be ‘brimming with naturally wholesome ingredients to make your four-legged friend 100% dog happy’. It contains chamomile, ginger, burdock root and peppermint, which are ‘known for their calming properties’.
Consumers’ quest for more natural remedies and a holistic approach to their own and pets’ lives opens up opportunities for pet food products based on natural remedies and ancient medicinal approaches such as Traditional Chinese Medicine, Jamu and Ayurveda.
Internet of Things
The rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), digitalisation and smart devices have disrupted industry after industry, with customer-facing technologies also paving way for digital transformation of the pet food industry. From the rise of online subscription services and convenient auto-replenishment programmes to pet wearables, pet owners will have innovative solutions to care for and connect with their pets like never before.
The Link AKC smart collar allows owners to track the location of their dog, create photo albums of their dog, track activity levels and see what the ambient temperature is. It comes in a leather collar, charging stand and app download.
Finally, the trend toward humanisation in the pet market has seen IKEA launch a line of furniture for pets which is dubbed LURVIG – Swedish for ‘hairy’. The range features pet beds, cushions, scratching posts and other items designed to fit around pre-existing furniture. In the UK, 17% of pet owners bought pet furniture for their pet, so there is clearly potential for these kinds of products. The fact that the furniture range comes in the classic IKEA look, will help pet owners bring pets into their family lives even more.
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