These Trends Are Shaping the Pet Industry
Each year, SuperZoo reminds us why it’s a must-attend show for anyone in the pet industry. In addition to meeting plenty of four-legged attendees, SuperZoo showgoers get a first look at new products hitting the market, learn how innovative brands are shaping the industry, and get to talk the people behind the brands, retailers, and distributors. And this year’s SuperZoo in Las Vegas was no exception.
After 3 days of walking the expansive show floor and having incredible conversations, we’ve put together a list of the top trends we saw at SuperZoo:
1. Sustainability Matters
Better-for-you products aren’t just about what’s good for your own health or your pet’s; they’re also about what’s better for the world. More brands are promoting their sustainable practices, which are part of a wide range of approaches. Some manufacturers use every part of the animal for treats and food so that there is minimal waste left behind. Others source their ingredients from nearby sources to minimize transportation pollution. The sustainability goes to the packaging also, where reducing waste is prioritized.
2. Vegetarian Formulas Get Rebranded
Vegetarian options are not new to pet aisles, but their positioning is getting a refresh. We noticed many brands—both established and emerging—touted “plant-based” formulas, reflecting the vernacular you most often hear in human products. The formulas aren’t always changing but the new language might resonate more with pet owners.
3. Protein, Protein, Protein
Protein content is another label claim making its way from grocery stores to pet stores. Many new products boasted about their protein content, though not all were taking the same approach:
- Single-sourced proteins, which derive all their protein ingredients from the same animal, are increasingly popular for pets with allergies. Pets with sensitive stomachs or an aversion to certain proteins can enjoy these single-sourced options with ease.
- Insect-based proteins are newer to the market and gaining traction for their high nutrition content as well as their sustainability practices, which require fewer resources than traditional animal farming.
4. CBD Remains Popular With Pets
CBD continues to pop up in new pet products that signal a sustained popularity that’s not occurring in human products. CBD was popular at last year’s SuperZoo, but it had an even stronger presence this year. Because of its potential to help pets with joint pain, inflammation, and anxiety, CBD has found its way into treats, toppers (i.e., oils to sprinkle on food), and supplements. Expect to see even more options in the future.
5. Retail Is Growing
One of the great joys of SuperZoo is talking face-to-face with the retailers who bring these products to shoppers. As we chatted with retailers from all over the country, we heard story after story of expansion. Some retailers were opening their second or third stores; others were venturing out of their regions into new territory. Proof that shoppers still rely on their brick-and-mortar neighborhood retailers and value the in-store experience.
6. Distributors Are Looking for Innovation
When we spoke to distributors, they emphasized their focus on innovative products and trends pushing the pet industry forward. They’re watching functional ingredients, such as collagen and pumpkin, that can be included in a pet’s diet to address health concerns or just improve their daily life. They want to stock products with those ingredients in their distribution center because they know they’re attracting new shoppers and retailers are going to be looking for them.
7. Brands Want to Partner With Distributors
Because distributors are a crucial connection to retailers and ultimately customers, brands are interested finding the right partner. In our conversations with a variety of brands, they showed an excitement for partnering with a distributor that understands both their category and the market. In the increasingly competitive and exciting pet industry, more people are understanding the value distributors offer.
8. Everyday Grooming
A lot of pets are not keen on trips to the groomers or vet, and that’s why we saw so many products bringing doses of grooming into daily routines. From mouthwash that you drop in your pet’s water bowl or apple cider vinegar in shampoo that helps with itchiness, pet owners can make their four-legged friend’s day (and breath) better.
9. Air-dried and Freeze-dried Are Popular Options
For pet owners looking for an alternative to standard pet food, both air-dried and freeze-dried options are filling up shelves. They both tout longer shelf lives and increased nutritional benefits. These dried options are always popping up in treats and as food toppers, suggesting their reach is still growing and gaining a new audience.
10. Social Causes Are Important to Business
Shoppers are increasingly concerned about how they spend their money, and brands are doing their part to improve the world—not just their bottom line. Throughout SuperZoo, we found brands with missions to reinvest in their own communities, the communities that they work with, and in underrepresented groups within the pet industry. Many brands are giving a portion of their sales to women-owned businesses or funneling that money back to shelters or environmental causes. Shoppers can simultaneously buy products that suit their pets’ needs and support causes that are important to them.