The move toward healthier pet food ties into another
industry trend: clean labels touting that products are free
of artificial flavors, colors and preservatives.
“Label transparency is becoming a primary focus for
pet treat consumers. For the past several years, people
have been making a push for cleaner ingredients for their
own food, and we are seeing this more and more within
the pet world,” says Lara Gusa, brand manager at Blue
Dog Bakery. “The healthier trends we’re seeing for 2018
also include more plant-based foods and ingredients
in pet treats—for example, pea and chickpea flour can
replace wheat or other grains for grain-free treat varieties,” Gusa says.
Freeze-dried raw pet food is also an up-and-coming
category that is increasing exponentially as pet owners
become more health-conscious about what they feed
their pets, according to Avinash Kumar, a research con-
sultant who worked on the Arizton Pet Food Market
report. “Freeze-dried raw pet food offers essential nutri-
ents and does not contain any types of preservatives or
other ingredients,” Kumar says. “Since there is no water
in the freeze-dried product, it eliminates the growth of
Several manufacturers have developed new products to
appeal to this relatively new penchant for healthy pet food.
Cardinal Pets offers Full Life For Pets, a line of dog treats,
chews and training rewards geared specifically toward the
grocery/supermarket channel. It was developed to combine the quality of pet specialty store products with the
convenience of supermarket shopping, Wien says.
Blue Dog Bakery will be launching a new line of meat
snacks in 2018 made with 100% USA meat.
Meanwhile, Toscano says the company’s Purina One
line will transition to an all-natural formula with no artificial colors, flavors or fillers, and feature real meat as the
No. 1 ingredient in 2018. Also coming in this year: Purina
One treats made with real chicken as the No. 1 ingredient, Beneful Select 10 made with 10 simple recognizable
purposeful ingredients, and Beneful Simple Goodness
(soft, tender, meaty morsels, with visible real vegetable
The Push for Premium
A burgeoning demand for premium and superpremium
products is a subset of sorts of the humanization/healthy
pet food theme. In fact, interest in high-end, premium pet
food and treats is a key driver for increased spending in
the category, the APPA reports.
That trend is something the pros at Rachael Ray Nutrish,
manufactured by Ainsworth Pet Nutrition, definitely see.
“Looking at trends, the ultra-premium end of the pet
food market is really what is driving the growth,” says
Annina Silverman, the company’s director of market-
ing. “Pet parents are becoming more educated
about animal nutrition and are seeking real
meat-first, natural products, many of which
eliminate potential food allergens, like
corn or grains that may cause sensitives
or digestive upset in their pets. By offering
these higher-end pet products, retailers
are offering the same types of food that are
available in pet stores, and letting shoppers
know that they can skip that extra trip.”
Rachael Ray Nutrish offerings include new
products in its real meat treats line: Turkey Bacon;
Meatball Morsels with beef, chicken and bacon; and
oven-browned chicken Sausage Bites.
The trend toward owning dogs under 25 pounds is creating a niche market for dog food and related products.
According to Packaged Facts’ September 2017 National
Pet Owner Survey, small dogs are the most popular by far
among U. S. households: 43% have small dogs that weigh
between 8 and 24 pounds, and 12% have toy/very small
dogs weighing under 8 pounds each.
Toscana calls the small dog phenomenon “a booming
trend in dog ownership right now”—one that prompted
Purina to introduce the Bella brand, food specifically
developed for small dogs.
New Little Bites recipe for dogs is Rachael Ray Nutrish’s answer to the small breed craze.
“Through urbanization trends, we see growth in small
dog ownership and the desire for specific products tailored to tinier pups,” Silverman says.
Small dogs have even spurred development of a new
product—litter for dogs, a category Packaged Facts
dubbed “one of the most intriguing growth opportunities” looking ahead to 2021. Fourteen percent of toy dog
owners and 12% of small dog owners have purchased
litter for use by their dogs, according to Packaged Facts’
Purina markets SecondNature dog-specific litter, and
Mars’ Pedigree website devotes a page to litter box training for small dogs, the report notes.
The healthier trends we’re seeing for
2018 also include more plant-based
foods and ingredients in pet treats.”
—Lara Gusa, Blue Dog Bakery
Amount of U.S. households
who have small dogs
(less than 25 pounds).
Source: 2017 National
Pet Owners Survey
Quarterly Pet Report