3 macro trends
reshaping pet food packaging
The pet care industry is being rapidly reshaped by changes in technology, consumer needs and convenience. Continue reading to discover how brands can harness this highly disruptive time to take the lead and define the future of pet food and pet care.
Within the global pet care industry, pet food is expected to make the largest segment gains due to the increasing demand for premium, natural and organic products. Analysts forecast the global organic pet food market to grow at a CAGR of 9.08% during the period 2017-2021.(1) By 2025, the industry is forecast to reach EUR 180.4 billion(2) – an enormous opportunity for brands to differentiate and thrive.
Looking ahead, we’ve identified key trends that will determine in which direction the pet care market will head and how innovative pet food packaging will help shape that future.
PET HUMANISATION: HEALTHY PETS, HAPPY HUMANS
The primary engine driving change in the pet care industry is the humanisation of pets by their owners. Now more than ever, pets are viewed as part of the family and an integral part of owners’ lives. Pets are also playing an increasing role in social media and may even be given gifts during holiday celebrations.
Although it may seem like pets are people too, they still depend on their human owners – especially at feeding time, where opposable thumbs come in handy for opening pet food packaging. With the crinkle of the food bag being opened, the emotional bond between human and animal evolves even more.
The human-animal bond drives owners to seek out the best nutritional support for the family pet. Based on a recent Mondi Dow Premium pet packaging survey, 77% of the respondents ranked clear nutritional information on package as very important.(3)
Today, more disposable income is spent on pets’ preventative health, including a variety of functional foods with high-quality ingredients and supplements to ensure longer, healthier lives. A Sainsbury’s Bank commissioned study in the UK, found that a third of pet owners (35%) say their pet will have a New Year’s resolution, most commonly related to more exercise, eating healthier or losing weight.(4)
As pet humanisation continues to evolve, trends in human food heavily influence pet food innovation. According to Euromonitor International, superfoods, grain-free and alternative proteins remain at the forefront of pet food market developments.(5) With pet humanisation and the focus on health changing consumer behaviour, brands can stand apart from the competition by choosing solutions that enhance food safety, shelf life and meet ever-increasing ethical and sustainability expectations of consumers.
GROUNDBREAKING SHIFT TO E-COMMERCE
The dramatic growth of internet retailing has been highly disruptive to pet care over the past years. Still, the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, has heightened this shift and, seemingly overnight, boosted online pet food sales by 17% in the US.(6) While store-based retailing remains dominant in the global pet care market, internet retailing makes entirely new business models possible for brands.
Pet food innovators can offer consumers automated shipping, subscription services, and even customised food blends. With links to learn about specific ingredients and reviews from other pet owners, online shoppers have more access to resources that traditional store-based retailing currently lacks.
According to Euromonitor, consumers are switching to online shopping when it comes to pet food purchases, since pet food bags can be bulky and cumbersome.(7) Online pet food delivery not only offers convenience, especially to older consumers and those dependent on public transportation; it also allows brands to capitalise on pet humanisation by shipping customised packages bearing the pet’s name.
Economic concerns and retail store closures resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic are also rapidly shifting consumers to online shopping so they can easily find lower prices and enjoy the convenience of home delivery. Will this cause a fundamental change in the demand for premium pet food? Brands need to keep a close eye on the re-opening of economies and be prepared to adapt quickly.
Mondi offers pet care brands a variety of packaging options and global market expertise to position pet food in the retail, subscription, and online spaces.
PET AND ENVIRONMENTAL WELFARE
As a result of growing environmental concerns, brands will increasingly need to address ingredient sourcing and packaging recyclability. Clearly communicating ingredients and sustainability claims on high quality printed labels strengthens brand equity and builds consumer trust. Additional information on how the food is made, and re-closable mechanisms to keep the contents fresh, are also well received by premium pet food purchasers.
Pet food brands are capitalising on the clean label trend by using natural and organic ingredients.(8) Yet another significant brand driver is the sustainability of packaging materials. Consumers focussed on clean eating options also try to reduce their impact on the environment. The recent Mondi Dow Premium Pet Packaging survey showed that seven out of ten pet owners who care about the environment prefer brands that mirror their beliefs, while one out of three claim they would switch to a brand that offers more sustainable packaging.(9)
As the race for alternative packaging continues, brands are exploring 100% recyclable, BPA-free materials in addition to kraft paper packaging. While sustainable innovations and fully recyclable packaging are still evolving, brands can seize opportunities with clean labels, since consumers are willing to pay more for products manufactured according to environmentally ethical standards.
Dutch pet food producer Yarrah chose Mondi's new mono-material BarrierPack Recyclable for its organic Yarrah and DANO pet food brands. This lightweight and fully recyclable packaging solution helps brands reduce their carbon footprint while ensuring the highest levels of pet food safety. Read more here.
(1) Technavio. Global Organic Pet Food Market 2017-2021
(2) https://www.grandviewresearch.com/press-release/global-pet-care-market. Values have been converted from U.S dollars (US$) to EU Euros (EU€) at the exchange rate of EU€1 = US$1,12 on 30 June 2020 reported by the European Central Bank
(3) Dow Premium Pet Packaging Survey. 2019
(5) Euromonitor International. 8 Pet Care Trends for 2018
(7) Euromonitor International. Where Consumers Shop for Pet Care
(8) Mintel. The future of pet food: 2019
(9) Dow Premium Pet Packaging Survey. 2019