Several of the suggestions for today in Feed Your Pet Right may constitute a significant portion of the petfood market of tomorrow.
Forum 2010, Marion Nestle, PhD, and Malden Nesheim, PhD, stood in front of a
well-populated conference room to share observations from their new book, Feed Your Pet Right. It follows in the footsteps of Nestle’s 2007 book on the
petfood recalls, Pet Food Politics: The Chihuahua in the Coal Mine, as
well as her one of her prize-winning book on human nutrition, What to Eat
Nestle is also
a Paulette Goddard professor of human nutrition at New York University. Nesheim
is an expert in animal nutrition whose background includes many years as a
professor at Cornell University, where he also served as director of the
Division of Nutritional Sciences, provost and vice president for budget and
planning. His many writing credits include books and articles in professional
journals on various facets of human and animal nutrition.
smart people, in other words. Brave, too. Because when they got in front of
that room full of petfood industry professionals, they were well aware that some
of the conclusions they were about to present might not be popular, such as:
If you’re a
petfood manufacturer, marketer or retailer whose business depends on the sale
of commercial food, this may not be the kind of news you care to hear. But it likely
is the kind of news many pet owners will welcome.
it’s coming from a reputable outside source, for one; and two, because
science-based conclusions like the third point above open the door to a great
deal more flexibility in feeding a pet. As the authors state, until recently,
pretty much every instruction pertaining to feeding one’s dog or cat has
fervently recommended a single kind of diet, whether it be only commercial
foods, only raw foods, only home-cooked foods and so on.
In the age
of blogs like Itchmo and Pet Connection, not to mention Facebook and Twitter, pet
owners are increasingly “doing it for themselves.” As a result, even with their
enormous media budgets, the combined forces of the largest petfood
manufacturers are no longer controlling the information flow.
with the pets-as-family trend stronger than ever, pet owners are becoming more
and more proactive when it comes to seeking pet health information from outside
the usual bounds, information like that to be had in Feed Your Pet Right.
If this is
starting to sound like a plug for the book, it absolutely is if you’re
interested in the future of the petfood market. Because in this column’s
estimation, several of the book’s suggestions for today may constitute a
significant portion of the petfood market of tomorrow.
market is already looking quite a bit different. Only a few years ago, for
example, refrigerated petfood was practically nonexistent in the US. Now, an
upstart called Freshpet has teamed with Tyson to go national with refrigerated
petfoods for dogs and cats. During the 52 weeks ending April 18, 2010, sales of
Freshpet dog food and treats in tracked mass-market channels rose 54% to US$14.5
million, according to SymphonyIRI. Although the organic petfood segment’s
growth rate fell to “only” 10% in 2009 because of the recession, sales have increased
six-fold since 2003, to US$85 million in 2009, and raw/frozen petfood and
petfood mixes are also coming on strong.
this adds up to is a greater focus on “fresh” in the petfood market, as feeding
preferences continue to align with trends on the human side. But what these
trends also underscore is that petfood marketers are increasingly facing a
choice: to specialize in a certain area, thereby forgoing the many other viable
slices of the overall petfood pie; or to diversify, as Nature’s Variety has
done by offering both raw and traditional diets.
of which path today’s petfood makers choose, they will be dealing with a much better
informed consumer market whose days of being a captive audience are indeed a
thing of the past.
provided by Packaged Facts based on reports including Natural, Organic and Eco-Friendly Pet Products
in the U.S., 3rd Edition (June 2010).
The mid-year meeting addressed several regulatory matters affecting petfoods
Public meetings invited comments and provided updates
Committees discussed key proposals such as a possible shift in the oversight of animal feeds
While petfood shoppers continue to show strong brand loyalty, pet products have not been immune to the store brand swing
As an industry, are we missing a huge opportunity to take advantage of another aspect of the human-pet bond?
Read more of Dr. Mukund Parthasarathy's insights on the changing petfood retail market and how it affects petfood manufacturers large and small
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