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Global Pet Expo 2022 Recap: Humanization of Pets Reaches New Heights

5 Trends We Saw on the Global Pet Expo Floor

Global Pet Expo took over the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, with vendors from all over the world giving us a glimpse into the future of the pet industry. In addition to saying hello to all the adorable cats and dogs who came by our booth, we had the fortune of talking with brands about their newest products and to retailers about their plans for the rest of 2022 and beyond. In both cases, innovating and iterating were on top of everyone’s mind because they are the key to differentiation and growth.

This year, however, the focus was less about huge pivots away from the norm and more about investing more in where consumers are heading. All signs point to the acceleration of the humanization of pets. The industry has been talking about it for a while, but it seems brands and retailers are upping their game to meet consumer demands in new and exciting ways. Maybe it was inevitable or perhaps the ongoing stress of the last two years has made us appreciate the animals in our lives even more.

Whatever the reason, we’re happy to see more thoughtfulness and higher standards applied to all things pet. Here are 5 trends we saw at Global Pet Expo:

1. Brands Emphasize Ingredient Simplicity and Production Transparency

In the past we’ve noted that more products are containing human-grade ingredients—and plenty of exhibitors were eager to let us taste one of their snacks to prove it—but now the journey from farm to pet bowl is an integral part of the story. Cat and dog food packaging boasted having a single source of protein or a short list of whole ingredients that sounded like those of a protein bar you’d snack on.

Certifications and label claims are also playing larger roles in how brands position their productions. We saw food, treats, chews, and even toys that proudly boasted being free of GMOs, having approval of the Certified B Corporation, and including sustainably sourced packaging and ingredients. Expect to see more manufacturers, such as West Paws, appealing to pet owners by using the same language and standards they expect from their own products.

TRENDS REPORT: Previewing 2022's Pet Trends at Global Pet Expo 

2. CBD Gets Targeted

When CBD began to appear in pet products, a trickle turned into a waterfall as it seemed like CBD was suddenly in every product in every category. Oversaturation looked like it might stunt CBD’s potential. Walking the Global Pet show floor, we quickly noticed that manufacturers are refining how CBD fits into their product lineup—and educating consumers in the process.

We saw chews with CBD that serve both as daily toothbrushes and a calming bedtime ritual for dogs, treats designed to calm nervous pets, such as Kradle's CBD melts, (especially during fireworks season), and food toppers to help with joint pain for aging pets. Retailers know that customers might not be looking for CBD but rather for a product that addresses a specific ailment.

 

3. Creative Forms Reshape Pet Treats

When we talk about humanizing pets, we often talk about the increased quality of ingredients—but this year brands took it up a notch with creative forms. Doughnuts that look so delicious they tempted us. Brands, like Best Buds Brew, offering full-sized bottles of beer (aka broth). Bacon-flavored bubbles. If your pet had its own kitchen, you could stock the cabinets and fridge with items that looked just like your favorites.

When manufacturers present these items in fun, human-like forms, they’re clearly appealing to us, the pet owners. Sharing a beer with your dog or letting your cat nibble on pastries is a fun, Instagrammable moment that taps into the culture of humanization and probably means more for us than for them. And that’s why it’s exciting to see where this trend is heading.

4. Insects Become a Protein Staple

Insects are dietary staples for amphibians, but several brands, such as Jiminy's, are bringing them into dog and cat food. Several products boasted about the reduced carbon footprint of insects versus traditional protein sources, while others played up the nutritional benefits of insects as a complete protein form that’s good for your pets. This trend touches on others we mentioned here—such as sustainability and transparent sourcing—and is a bit eye catching.

For consumers who are used to seeing the same overall offerings in the pet food aisle, insect protein might be just unusual enough to shake them out of their routine. Plus, some of these items can be used as food toppers so shoppers can try these new offerings without completely disrupting their pet’s diet.

5. Independent Retailers Are Energized

One of the best parts of these shows is the chance to talk face-to-face with retailers to hear what’s on their mind and understand where they’re focusing their energy. In nearly every conversation with retailers, we heard similar questions: “How can I be sure I’m staying competitive compared to other stores?” “Can I gain access to data without making myself vulnerable to the big box stores?” “What trends do I need to be aware of so I can give the best experience to my customers?” These conversations are music to our ears because they show how committed indie pet retailers are to staying innovative and growing. And we are, too. Neighborhood stores set the trends, and their knowledgeable staff serve as educators for customers who want to be the best pet parents possible. Independent retailers understand that pets are part of the family and that deserve the latest human-grade foods and treats with functional ingredients.

For even more insight from Global Pet Expo, watch our daily recaps:

Day 1: CBD Teeth Cleaners, Craft Dog Beers & Spreadable Treats

At the first day of Global Pet Expo, two of our first-time attendees had a chance to walk (some) of the huge show floor to see what's new and exciting on the market. Find out what products caught their eyes today, featuring Best Buds Brew, Kradle, and Diggs Pet.

Day 2: Positive Future for Overall Pet Growth

For day 2 at Global Pet Expo, SPINS' Kyle Mener and Rahul Roy, had the pleasure of being joined by Todd Dittman, executive director at Indie Pet, as they all discuss the fun trends popping up on the show floor and what great conversations are happening.

Ready to see what other insights SPINS has to offer? We'd love to help you get started.