Global Pet Expo (GPE), already the largest American pet trade show, keeps getting bigger and hosting more vendors each year.
According to Bob Vetere, president and CEO of APPA, GPE has grown 60 percent since its first show and the 2016 edition set records for attendance and number of buyer preregistrations. There were 5,842 buyers present—a four percent increase since last year. This year, there were 3,218 booths housing 1,087 exhibitors.
With all of these pet companies showing off their latest and greatest products, the Pet Age team combed the show looking for trends that would be important for retailers to know.
The pet tech trend is going strong, with at least two dozen vendors offering pet activity trackers, smart feeders, app controlled aquarium lighting and more. OurPets showcased what is perhaps the most complete line of technology-integrated products, Intelligent Pet Care. It includes the SmartPetLink app that controls a smart litter box, smart feeder and smart waterer.
Another trend that was out in force is pet companies partnering with celebrities. At GPE, Petmate launched a line of dog products with country star Miranda Lambert. The line is called Mutt Nation and has a country-rock and rustic style that draws on Lambert’s roots.
There was also the debut of Big and Bobbi, LLC, a line of dog shampoos created in a partnership between American rapper, songwriter, producer and member of Outkast Big Boi and Bobbi Panter of Bobbi Panter Pet Products.
At least one celebrity launched a pet company that was entirely her own. Lisa Vanderpump from the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and Vanderpump Rules launched Vanderpump Pets at Global. The company offers leashes, collars, clothing, carriers and accessories for dogs and cats.
Pet owners are always looking for ways to calm pets, ease separation anxiety and relieve their pain. The latest trend in that arena seems to be treats, supplements and lotions containing natural, cannabis-derived cannabidiol (CBD). CBD is legal in all 50 states and contains no THC, according to Larry Wright, president and CEO of The Green Pet Shop.
“CBD is medicinal and it doesn’t get pets high,” Wright said.
The interest in CBD has been driven by the growing acceptance of medical marijuana for humans.
“Ever since medical marijuana became popular, people have been using it for pets,” said Graham Sorkin of The Green Pet Shop. “We decided to create a formula for pets. We see a lot of demand for a domestic product instead of from China.”
The Green Pet Shop offered a CBD lotion in a gel pen that is applied to the inside of pets’ ears.
“A transdermal delivery offers a higher percentage of effectiveness in pain relief,” Wright said.
Although the demand for alternate protein sources and ancestral diets is not new, the number of products that includes these items has surged. At GPE, Pet Age staff saw foods and/or treats based on lamb, goat, rabbit, bison, wild boar, quail, pheasant, alligator and kangaroo, which are likely only some of the varieties available.
Why the increased interest in these types of diets and treats?
“Interest in ancestral canine diets is on the rise as pet parents seek ways to feed their dogs as they may have eaten in the wild,” said Pete Brace, vice president of communications and pet parent relations for Merrick Pet Care. “These diets combine the best of the mega pet food trends pet parents are looking for. For example, Merrick Backcountry features high-protein grain-free recipes that start with real deboned meat, plus freeze-dried raw pieces of meat, fish and poultry for the fresh taste and digestibility of a raw diet and exotic protein blends to give dogs a novel flavor experience.”
Bone broth might be a new in-demand product, said Scott Kinsinger of Caru Pet Food Company. Caru launched a grass-fed, made in the USA bone broth at Global.
According to Kinsinger, bone broth offers a number of benefits to pets.
“It’s full of nutrients and glucosamine for joints,” Kinsinger said. “It’s a natural way to get these into a dog and it’s very palatable. Retailers are very excited about it.”
The Honest Kitchen has also offered a bone broth product: Bone Broth with Turmeric.
Whether brand new or longstanding, these trends are some that retailers would be wise to notice. With each trade show comes the opportunity to offer pet owners increasingly innovative ways to care for their companions. And of course, staying ahead of market trends often means staying ahead of the competition.