Health and organic production are major trends in human food, and inevitably these trends are reflected in pet food too. Because most consumers consider themselves as ‘pet parents’, they are increasingly looking for food and treats that are health-giving and organic. In fact, this lifestyle choice has become a hot topic among owners of small domestic pets.
A fully-fledged family member
Many owners of small mammals are more and more concerned with the suitability of feed and habitat. They also tend to engage with the animal more intensively. The specific requirements of their pets are clearly in the foreground for many, while rabbits, hamsters, etc. have long since stopped being just domestic pets. In fact, the animal is increasingly regarded as a fully-fledged member of the family, and is looked after with ever greater affection.
This trend is accompanied by a growing demand for natural, high-quality feed, and a wish to keep animals in conditions that are appropriate for the species. The owners' thirst for information about the species-specific requirements of their pets is expanding in parallel. The aim is that basic nutrition, snacks, hay, litter and accessories should all be tailored to the animal's needs as precisely as possible.
Because the range of products is so great, end consumers are now taking an even closer look at potential purchases in the pet shop. This also increasingly involves looking at the company behind the product. Reliance on sustainable resources, environment-friendly production processes, and that the products are manufactured in the consumer's own country are all steadily gaining in importance as purchase criteria. And this trend is also clearly recognizable in the small mammal trade: by and by, small cages are making way for larger runs; the range of untreated natural feed is growing, while more and more manufacturers are advertising their environmental awareness and sustainability.
Joint leisure activities
At the same time, another issue besides the natural and species-appropriate sustenance of small mammals has come into focus of late: the human-animal bond. Establishing a good relationship with their domestic pet is particularly important for owners, and a great concern of theirs. Rather than the alien concepts they used to be, notions like confidence and mutual trust are now the be-all and end-all for many. The animal member of the family is increasingly taking centre stage and is looked after ever more attentively. In the process, the understanding of the specific behaviour of rabbits and other species is tangibly expanding, while joint leisure activities are given a much greater priority, than just a few years ago. Animal-oriented accessories and intelligence toys affording the pets opportunities to burrow, dig, gnaw and forage are increasingly finding their way into the specialist markets. The natural senses of the small mammals are stimulated, ensuring that their mental and physical capacities are exercised. Because, apart from promoting natural behaviour, interactive accessories also boost the animal's self-confidence and help to reduce stress and anxiety. The delightful result is that the animals are happier, more balanced and more relaxed.
Great leeway for new ideas
What arises is a virtuous circle. The more time owners spend with their animals, the more they grow to love them. And as the animal becomes more affable and trusting, the owner becomes more engaged in looking after it. What this means for the small mammal business is that creativity in product development knows no bounds, providing great leeway for new ideas. A rising trend is unfolding that is not set to wane anytime soon, if ever.
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