Key Pet Food Industry Trends

Functional Pet Treats & a Larger Variety of Supplements

Whether canine or feline, functional treats have increased in popularity thanks to better awareness around health and nutritional contents. Meat-based treats (including the raw trend) continue to grow in popularity as pet parents prioritize wellness and increasingly scrutinize ingredients. Treats that support gut, liver, kidney, skin, coat and bone health are also growing in popularity, along with calming supplements and products like collagen. As pet owners continue to humanize their pets, we can expect this pet industry trend to continue.

Specialty Pet Food & Grain-Free Stagnation

Much like the human health and wellness space has grown exponentially, so has the category for pet food and treats. Innovative pet food products, including hemp and CBD-based food, continue to grow in popularity among pet owners seeking alternatives that benefit their beloved furballs. Natural food and treats are still on the rise, although slowing as opposed to previous years, according to NielsenIQ. The trend toward grain-free food is also starting to slow, according to NielsenIQ, likely in part due to the FDA report on the association between grain-free food and canine dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs. However, freeze-dried raw pet food, while sometimes grain-free, far outpaced other dry food categories in 2023, seeing 23.4% growth and reaching over $241 million in sales.

The Evolving Cat-egory of Feline Products

While dog ownership still outpaces cat ownership in the US, the category of feline products is an attractive and high-potential area for pet food manufacturers. This is because the feline food and treat market offers less competition and an opportunity for companies to gain higher net profits. Adapting existing products for this parallel market offers an opportunity for pet food companies to expand quickly by leveraging existing packaging concepts or prototyping quick turn concepts.

Alternative Proteins and Personalized Diets

Every human has their own dietary preferences and eating habits, and many pet parents have extended that personalization to their pets. Pet parents are increasingly gravitating toward specialized diets and supplements, exploring plant-based or alternative diets. According to NielsenIQ, this shift has likely come out of a concern for the environmental impact of animal agriculture. It has led some pet food companies to explore alternative proteins, lab-grown meat, plant-based alternatives and other options. We can expect this trend — along with small farm-raised, natural protein sources — to continue in the coming years.

How to Package for Today's Pet Food Trends

With changing consumer preferences and some retailers offering very little shelf time, getting your pet food packaging right the first time — and on time — is imperative. Working with a partner like Belmark allows you to create packaging that resonates with consumers while removing the risk of supply chain issues. These advantages give you the flexibility to pivot to meet retailer demands and grow your brand.

Know the Specs

Understanding the specs of how a product needs to be packaged to maximize freshness and quality is a way Belmark can help pet food clients navigate their packaging needs. For example, some product types may benefit more from being in pouches, with additional features such as an infinite edge and zipper closure. Belmark can help you navigate specs to enhance your product’s branding and quality.

Move Quickly and with Quality

Belmark’s agile solutions can equip you with prototypes and help you handle small order quantities, making it easier to start up or scale a pet food and treat business. Having catchy, distinctive packaging can easily set apart your unique product with customers.

If you want to test drive a special recipe or offer a limited-edition package, Belmark's wide range of solutions significantly reduces the barriers to producing pet food packaging. Our team of packaging experts can help your business navigate from start-up all the way through scaling for full-run orders.

Belmark’s digital printing solution, Web-to-Print® offers an unprecedented speed and quality that gets your products to market competitively. And with no minimum orders, Web-to-Print® can get you printed, converted, and shipped in three weeks or less.

Work with a Supplier Who Gets It

For smaller pet food companies, operating with speed and creative freedom can be an advantage compared to large conglomerates. However, meeting the tight timelines for planogram resets or responding to market trends to meet retailer expectations means having a pet food packaging and labeling solution that can keep up without compromising quality.

Belmark’s ability to offer smaller runs of labels, flexible packaging, and cartons makes it easier for pet food brands of all sizes to make their mark and stay current in the pet industry. Connect with a Belmark packaging expert today and take your next 3, 6, or 12-month pet food marketing plan to the next level with a tailored packaging and labeling solution.

Updated 2/26/2024

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