Preserving the health and well-being of pets has become essential for modern pet parents who are taking a proactive approach to ensure their furry friends live healthier and longer. As more and more U.S. pet owners become aware of the potential health benefits that targeted pet nutrition can provide, the category has grown at a steady, consistent rate, rising by approximately 10 percent between 2013 and 2018 to $25.2 billion.
This is also linked to the rise of key market trends, such as humanization and premiumization, which have created further opportunities for pet food, treat and supplement manufacturers to develop super-premium products that meet evolving consumer demands.
With an increasing number of households now owning pets—including 68 percent of U.S. households—consumers are putting greater emphasis on pets being central to family life. This has seen pets become more humanized in the minds of their owners. As such, more pet owners are mirroring their own lifestyles on their pets, including dietary preferences and the use of supplements. Research suggests that 30 percent of young U.S. pet owners are more likely to purchase pet food enriched with vitamins, while 34 percent report buying all-natural pet food products.
With humanization also comes premiumization. Indeed, an increasing number of individuals are willing to pay a premium for added value pet food products that offer health and wellness benefits.
Mirroring these evolving purchasing behaviors, many major consumer health themes are also transitioning into the pet health industry. Weight management is an issue that is particularly pertinent—an estimated 55.8 percent of dogs and 59.5 percent of cats are obese or overweight in the U.S. Studies exploring how nutritional intervention may address this demonstrate that ingredients such as L-Carnitine, widely used in human weight management products, can also play a role in supporting weight management in pets.
According to scientific research, L-Carnitine, such as Lonza’s Carniking ingredient, may support the animal’s body in metabolizing and converting dietary fat into energy. The ingredient may also positively influence recovery and the aging process, as well as supporting energy metabolism in the heart and skeletal muscles of older pets.
Furthermore, due to genetic predispositions, some pet breeds are more likely to require support for specific health conditions, such as joint health, which can affect breeds such as Labradors at a young age. This creates discomfort and affects their ability to move and, as a result, ingredients designed to support joint health, such as Lonza’s UC-II Undenatured Type II Collagen, are gaining traction in the pet food industry to help maintain joint health and flexibility.
The ever-changing nature of the pet nutrition segment means that new manufacturing challenges continue to emerge for brand owners when ensuring that products are developed to the highest standards. Choosing the right dosage form to deliver ingredients, for instance, is essential in order to protect the ingredient and ensure that the correct dose is delivered. The quality and sourcing of ingredients is also becoming a key part of consumer expectations, and the desire for transparency has meant that the clean label movement is an emerging area in pet health. Furthermore, manufacturers must also remain aware of the stringent regulations in the pet nutrition market. These legislations mean that ingredients approved for human consumption are not automatically approved for pet consumption, so it is integral that producers are aware of these nuances to remain compliant.
The evolving pet nutrition landscape is redefining the role of pets within the U.S. household as the gap between human and pet nutrition trends continues to close. To meet market demand, the pet nutrition industry must explore new avenues in the pet food segment to meet demand, which is creating new opportunities and challenges for brand owners to deliver efficacious and safe specialty pet food and supplements.
BIO: Dr. Kevin Owen received his master’s degree in nutrition from Texas A&M University in 1992 and completed his Ph.D. in nutrition from Kansas State University in 1996. After graduation, Dr. Owen joined Lonza Inc. and currently holds the position of Global Business Development, Companion Animals. Since joining Lonza, he has focused on the development of several nutritional ingredients/products with applications in both animal and human nutrition.