Pet nutrition is one of the biggest growing segments of the pet industry with new recipes coming to table on a regular basis. Dry foods are still big sellers for pet retailers, with new trends emerging in these products.
According to veterinarian Brent Mayabb, vice president of corporate affairs at Royal Canin USA, the biggest trend in dry food for dogs is specialization.
“Historically, the company is primarily focused on making dry foods and offers hundreds of different diets for specific breeds, specific lifestyles and for specific health issues—catering to the individual needs of each dog,” he said.
“Our approach to pet nutrition is to develop nutrient profiles based on what the dog needs as revealed through observation, research and knowledge of the dogs, rather than following popular marketing trends in the industry,” Mayabb said.
“This individualization is based on many factors, including size and breed. For example, our Breed Health Nutrition line offers formulas for different breeds of dogs based on their size, body type and predispositions, with kibble designs customized to the size and shape of the face and jaw to encourage chewing and improve digestibility.”
The goals of nutritional specialization are twofold. To keep dogs as healthy as possible in the moment and, long term, to increase longevity.”
Eukanuba has just published the findings of its 10-year study that was conducted by a team of leading industry researchers focused on animal nutrition, immunology, digestive health and aging done with Labrador retrievers to better understand how to help dogs lead healthier, longer lives.
The study found 90 percent of participating dogs that were given proper care and fed the precise formulations of scientifically proven ingredients lived beyond 12 years, the typical lifespan of Labrador retrievers. Twenty-eight percent of participating dogs lived exceptionally long lives, meaning at least 30 percent longer than their typical lifespan.
“It’s about high-quality nutrition to help dogs lead their most astounding lives,” said Javi Neves, Eukanuba’s brand director. “Every ingredient in our food has a specific purpose to promote health and vitality to help ensure the dogs that we feed look and feel their best at every age.”
The labs were fed the same diet throughout the 10-year study. The formulation they were fed contains the same seven nutritional technologies as our Eukanuba Adult and Senior formulas available on the shelf today, namely the brand’s adult, weight control and senior diets along with the brand’s breed specific Labrador formula.”
New from Hill’s Nutrition with a similar focus on key ingredients is the company’s Ideal Balance Crafted line.
“The focus is on growing consumer interest in less-processed, artisan-style food, cooked with great attention to detail. These recipes include ingredients such as trout, tuna, quinoa, buckwheat and chickpeas,” said Tarang Jain, brand manager at Hill’s Pet Nutrition.
The line also has consumer-friendly packaging that has a clear window on the front of the bag so consumers can see the kibble and the other visible inclusions achieved through Hill’s oven-roasting cooking process. The bags also have a Velcro seal for continued freshness.
Freeze-dried foods are also increasing their visibility on the dry food shelf.
New from Bravo is the Homestyle Complete Dinners for Dogs line available in three proteins, namely beef, pork and turkey.
They are available in 3 ounce re-sealable packets as well as 2 pound and 6 pound re-sealable bags.
“Each dinner is low in fat and is grain and gluten-free. And they contain no artificial preservatives, flavors or colors of any kind. When mealtime comes around, simply mix with warm water or a light broth and serve as a treat, a meal or a topper on the pet’s regular food. For more sensitive stomachs, soak for 10 to 15 minutes before feeding,” said Bette Schubert, co-founder and senior vice president of sales.
According to Rob Cadenhead of Spring Naturals, the brand also has a heavy dry food focus, with sales indicating a ratio of 80 percent dry to 20 percent wet foods.
The company recently expanded its grain-free dog and cat lines by including new exotic proteins.
“Pet parents continue to feed their pet as they would themselves and this is leading to increased demand for new and exotic protein varieties,” Cadenhead said. “And in turn, the latter is being fueled by an increase in pet allergies as well as the desire to offer pets more variety.”
Pondering the Packaging
Cadenhead added that with this demand for higher-end pet foods comes new focus on packaging, which according to market research specialists Freedonia is expected to grow to a $2.5 billion dollar industry by 2018.
“As dog owners become more educated on ingredients and focused on what they are feeding their pet, the demand for packaging that illustrates and communicates with superior graphics a product’s benefits is needed. Plastic pouches are expected to be the fastest growing style of pet food packaging due to convenience. Also, zippered closures add a level of food safety that consumers also find reassuring,” he said.l