A recent global study, conducted by market research company Wizer on behalf of BENEO, has found that the primary interest of dog and cat owners is for natural pet foods with additional health benefits. With the majority of pet owners expecting their pet’s food to be the same quality as their own, there is significant demand for high quality, natural and healthy ingredients. The survey included 2,500 dog and cat owners in the UK, USA, Brazil, Germany and China (i).
The research highlights how pet food trends continue to mirror those in human nutrition. It demonstrates the vast market potential for the use of clean label, health-promoting and no- or low-allergenic ingredients, with sustainability and plant-based origin also now of increasing importance.
Naturalness and clean label drives pet food purchasing
According to the survey, consumers are increasingly considering natural aspects when buying food for their pets. Using less or no additives makes pet food appear healthier for more than 4 in 5 pet owners. BENEO’s findings also demonstrate that pet foods featuring natural ingredient claims have a significant influence on their purchase prospects, with 79% of pet owners checking the label for any ingredients they dislike. Many potential customers are also calling on brands to make it easier to track what’s contained within pet foods, making this an important area of focus for producers.
Alongside the demand to eliminate additives from pet foods, a spotlight is also being placed on allergenic ingredients: three quarters of pet owners agree that using no allergens, such as soy or corn, makes food for pets seem healthier(i). BENEO’s rice ingredients are a viable way to reduce the allergenic components in pet foods and enhance their appeal to consumers.
Support of healthy digestion a priority
As in human nutrition, healthy digestion is also driving buying behaviours in pet foods. More than 90% of pet owners say that supporting digestive health improves the likelihood of them purchasing 2a product, inducing them to actively look for easy-to-digest products. Notably the demand for prebiotics is gathering pace and their benefits are widely perceived, with 70% of respondents agreeing that adding such fibres to pet food makes it seem healthier. A recent Mintel study further confirms this interest in prebiotic ingredients for pets, with half of the product launches of dry cat and dog food in Europe now containing inulin, fructo-oligosaccharides or chicory derived products(ii).
Increasing sustainable focus
Another consumer trend that is further shifting into the realm of pet foods is that of sustainability, with more than half of owners now stating that they pay attention to sustainability and the carbon footprint in purchase decisions of their pets’ food. According to the survey, using claims such as “environmentally friendly” improves consumer interest in buying a pet food product.
BENEO offers a range of chicory root fibres and rice ingredients that help manufacturers address the increased demand for clean label and healthy pet foods. Besides their nutritional benefits, BENEO’s range of rice ingredients have outstanding technological properties, making them suitable as natural alternatives to modified starches and hydrocolloids or enhancers of physical characteristics in many types of pet foods and snacks. The company has also built its business around the sustainable sourcing of all its plant-based ingredients.
Maygane Ronsmans, Product Manager Animal Nutrition at BENEO, comments: “The findings of this latest pet survey highlight the rising demand from owners for understandable, cleaner ingredients labels and for healthier nutrition for their pets. We are also seeing this reflected through the rising number of customers favouring BENEO’s clean label and hypoallergenic rice starches and proteins, which are the ideal plant-based solutions for premium pet foods.
“The technical properties of our functional rice ingredients allow producers to use them as natural ingredients, and their nutritional benefits make them suitable for sensitive pets, or those with allergies. The combination of BENEO’s natural and plant-based ingredients and its expertise in healthy nutrition help manufacturers bring to market new and relevant pet food products that meet these consumer demands.”
i BENEO Consumer Research on Attitudes towards Pet Food (Online survey) conducted in local language by Wizer
for USA n=510 / Brazil n=515 / UK n=505 / Germany n=514 / China n=512
Field work conducted in July 2021
ii Mintel GNPD, Share of New Product Launches in Europe for the year 2021 (extraction date: Jan 2022)