From Ingredients to Packaging: How Sustainability Is Influencing the Pet Industry

October 7, 2020
by SPINS Marketing

Sustainability in the Pet Industry

Sustainability has become a common focus among consumeras concerns about waste reduction and the environment grow. In addition to recycling at home and using cloth shopping bags instead of disposable ones, many consumers are bringing an eye for sustainability to the shopping aisles. Today’s pet parents are searching for sustainable products, from the packaging to the ingredients. According to research firm FINN CADY, 73% of Gen Z and 68% of millennials more willing to spend more for sustainable products. Clearly, sustainability in the pet industry is a growing trend that both pet retailers and pet brands can’t afford to ignore. 

Sustainable Packaging

Environmentally minded shoppers want to provide their pets with their favorite items without leaving a large carbon footprint. Product packaging and containers account for almost 80 million tons of municipal solid waste each year—and only half of that is recycled. Shoppers want their pet products—whether it’s food or treats—to be mindful of the ingredients they use in packaging and how much material is used. 

Consumer goods brands are pledging to reduce waste in the coming years and there are even pop-up grocers offering zero waste experiences. Petfood Industry points out that some innovative pet brands are trying to find new packaging alternatives, whether looking for materials that can be recycled or implementing ways to drop-off or mail-back packaging to ensure recycling takes place.  

Sustainable Ingredients

The quest for sustainability appears in the pet food aisles as well. In order to reach these shoppers, some brands are promoting their use of environmentally friendly sourcing, such as using grass-fed beef or sustainable fisheries. They might even take a more holistic view of what sustainability means, emphasizing how their manufacturing practices don’t harm communities in terms of the environment, finances, or social issues.  

The conversation around sustainability gets more complicated, however, when you get to the debate around byproducts. Byproducts (parts of the animal that are often discarded because they are not from muscle tissue) have been deemed suitable for animal consumption but not for humans. Using byproducts produces less waste, which is great for sustainability. And for pet parents who follow limited ingredient diets, byproducts are welcome: using more of the same animal in a product means fewer ingredients that might irritate their pets. However, other pet parents are sticking closer to human-grade standards and try to follow a clean diet for pets. They are averse to byproducts, which aren’t suitable for humans and, therefore, not suitable for their pets. 

Sustainability isn’t just a growing trend—it’s an opportunity for brands and retailers to show pet parents how they are meeting this moment. The focus on environmentally responsible ingredients and packaging is only going to strengthen in the coming years. If you build a relationship with pet parents now, you can show that you’re committed to partnering with them for the long haul. For more insights on what matters to today’s pet parents, check out the SPINS 2020 Pet Trends report. 

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