The desire for healthier humanized pet food, coupled with the convenience of online shopping, has paved the way for a new trend in how we satisfy our four-legged friends’ appetites: personalized pet food.
Move over kibble, pet owners can now subscribe to services that deliver freshly prepared pet meals to their doorstep that are customizable with add-ins and meal toppers. Custom cuisine for your favorite canine is sold in a variety of forms, including freeze-dried, dehydrated, liquid, mixed and powder. Food toppers, from pour-over stews to crispy turkey clusters, offer an irresistible addition to your pup’s meal by introducing savory flavors upon the first bite; add-ins, or mixers, are available in larger portions and help to enrich your dog’s regular food-mixture with flavorful, nutrient-rich food like meat, fish, vegetables or fruit.
Sound confusing? Don’t despair. JustFoodForDogs, who partnered with Petco in 2018, offers ready-to-serve human-grade, small-batch meals like Beef & Russet Potato, Venison & Squash, and Turkey & Whole Wheat Macaroni. As part of their partnership with Petco, JustFoodForDogs in-store kitchens (offered at select Petco stores) allows customers to carry out JFFD’s signature meals, prepared on-site by the brand’s own staff members. Other personalized pet food options on the market include Ollie, who partners with Walmart’s Jet.com, and Purina’s Just Right brand.
It’s no secret that Americans are wild about their house pets, and when it comes to the amount of coin they’re dropping on keeping Whiskers and Fido wagging their respective tails, it’s raining proverbial cats and dogs. According to the market research firm Packaged Facts, dog and cat food sales in the U.S. hit $27 billion in 2018, representing a 4 percent growth from the previous year. Additionally, organic pet food sales are expected to increase by 14.6 percent annually through 2019. The desire for cleaner premium pet food and a trend toward humanization (the tendency to treat pets as people) have been catalysts for the recent surge in organic pet food popularity. Pet owners are increasingly looking for more transparency with what they’re feeding their fur-balls, opting for nutritious, safe ingredients they can trust with the hope it will ultimately lead to healthier, longer-living pets.
A major driver for the increased sales can be attributed to the rise in e-commerce and the ease with which pet owners can shop for these products through websites like Amazon.com and Chewy.com. According to Winsight Grocery Business, “E-commerce has seen a 53 percent dollar growth across pet consumables, with dog food and treats up 52 percent and cat food and treats up 54 percent compared to a year ago.” The increased use of online shopping has offset the decline of brick-and-mortar sales and the trend is only expected to continue. David Sprinkle, research director for Packaged Facts stated, “E-commerce sales have, in fact, been so strong that they have been more than offsetting sluggish pet product sales in other channels.”
So, what’s next? Superpremium cat food. With personalized pet food solidified in the dog market, industry forecasters have turned their attention toward felines. There are still several health issues cat owners face that need addressing, including misconceptions around feline obesity and their need for hydration. “Because cat owners are increasingly informed about the health and nutritional needs of their cats, they are increasingly receptive to—and willing to pay more for—better quality products, leaving it to pet food makers to continually raise the health and wellness bar,” Packaged Facts stated.
Dog or cat, one thing is for sure, it’s a great time to be a hungry house pet.