The pet food industry has reached great heights in recent years, amassing an estimated worth of over US$91.1 billion. This is expected to boom to even greater amounts in the years ahead, with a large part of this growth due to innovation coming from the rising demand for plant-based dog foods.
Though still a niche industry, with vegan and plant-based claims appearing on just 2.1% of dog-food products worldwide, it’s finding more shelf space compared to five years ago, when only 0.7% of dog-food had a plant-based claim, according to Innova Market Insights. And such plant-based claims are growing rapidly in dog-food (+40%) compared to the growth of all new dog-food launches (+5%) (Global, compound annual growth rate, 2018–2022).
In order to be successful in the plant-based dog-food space, it’s important to understand the most prominent trends in dog food that are fuelling the plant-based segment of the industry.
Humanisation and premiumisation
Two of the most important trends in the pet foods industry include humanisation and premiumisation. These two trends go hand in hand, since premiumisation in the dog-food industry has undoubtedly come as a result of changing societal attitudes towards animals, leading to their humanisation.
Indeed, the increasing humanisation of pets is leading people to consider the health and happiness of their dogs in line with their own wellbeing. This is causing more dog carers to search for premium pet foods with high-quality proteins and ingredients akin to those in human food.
Imitations of premium human foods are also being seen in the industry, with manufacturers working to emulate the appearance, ingredients, aroma, and product names of human food products.
In 2021, Lily’s Kitchen launched its first-ever range of plant-based dog foods. These included dog food products with human food names, as well as high-quality ingredients that are frequently found in premium human foods.
The range included: Mighty Burrito Bowl (wet food containing jackfruit, red pepper, and kidney beans), Vibrant Rainbow Stew (wet food containing courgettes, carrots, and lentils), and Tropical Mango Jerky (dog treats based on fruit).
- Product developers and manufacturers should focus on high-quality human-grade ingredients that are recognisable to pet owners.
- Brands and marketers should ensure that marketing campaigns, packaging, and product names and descriptions showcase the premium nature of their products and give a ‘nod’ to human foods.
“Studies have shown that younger generations consider dogs to be more like family members than pets. We believe this will continue to drive demand for higher-quality products with clean ingredient labels. Over the last decade or so, this trend has translated to increased demand for fresh and frozen meat-based dog food that uses ‘human-grade’ animal protein,” comments Caroline Buck, Co-Founder of Petaluma
Pet Industry Trends, (2022). Common Thread Co. Available at: https://commonthreadco.com/blogs/coachs-corner/pet-industry-trends-growth-ecommerce-marketing. Accessed 2023-01-06.
Research sent to ProVeg International by Innova Market Insights, (2023).