and the future of
pet food packaging
As relationships between humans and pets evolve, pet owners increasingly indulge their ‘fur babies’. Today’s pets share similar lifestyles to their human companions in terms of nutrition goals, occasions for celebration, and even social media appearances.
Pet humanisation is one of the biggest trends reshaping the pet care industry. With the global pet care industry forecasted to reach EUR 180.9 billion by 2025(1) and pet food to lead the most significant segment gains, brands that can earn pet owner’s trust and loyalty stand to grow and profit. Food safety, sustainability and pet health are three important areas where brands can focus to win over today’s pet owners.
PET HEALTH & FOOD SAFETY
Pet owners are actively looking to improve their pets’ wellbeing. Natural, organic and functional foods continue to gain in popularity. The trend in pet humanisation drives growth in this sector as pet owners are willing to spend more on premium, high-quality food and products to improve the health and longevity of their pets.(2) Printing an easy-to-read list of ingredients on the packaging plays an ever-essential role for premium pet foods. Packaging labels and claims can build brand equity and trust by educating consumers about ingredient sourcing, unique processing methods, functionality and certifications (e.g. organic, grain-free, non-GMO).
Consumers also want reliability in protecting the freshness of food as it plays a vital role in their pets’ health. Pet owners often replace packaging with other storage containers to ensure food safety, but some new packaging solutions allow direct decanting and fully secure closing mechanisms. Resealable packaging offers consumers additional value and dramatically reduces efforts required.
Pet owners, especially those living busy or hectic lives, are inclined to give their pets snacks, such as ones with functional ingredients including stress-reducing botanicals. As a result, smaller portion snacks are being used for mood-boosting or positive distraction. Dog snacks and treats hold the most prominent portion of global pet food innovation (35%), with wet cat food and wet dog food trailing closely behind.(3)
Owners’ who commit to the health and well-being of their pets are often environmentally conscious as well.(4) According to Mintel, 71% of Spanish pet owners are interested in pet food products from brands that have their own sustainability scheme in place.(3)
Consumers are also paying attention to the material of the packaging. In the US, consumers are most likely to perceive paper-based packaging as sustainable, but 24% of respondents polled also considered flexible plastic environmentally friendly.(5) As a result, a growing number of brands are replacing unsustainable packaging with sustainable solutions such as fully recyclable mono PE for pre-made packaging or recyclable paper-based packaging solutions.
GOING THE EXTRA MILE FOR PREMIUMISATION
Increasing disposable incomes, urbanisation, and pet health awareness further support the rise of premium pet food. Innovation, especially consumer-convenient packaging, is of paramount importance for pet owners to rationalise higher price points. As pet owners look for personalised products, customised pet food services are expected to become the new normal.
Modular packaging platforms offer multiple pack sizes that can be tailored and arranged in various ways within standardised shipper packaging. Operational innovations such as one-way valves and grease protection features help pet food producers optimise efficiencies in the modular packaging process.
Brands can also go the extra mile for premium consumers with shipping-to-storing container boxes. The rigid structure of the box provides protection during transport but also doubles as a food storage container with a flexible inner zipper bag for easy opening and closing.
The pet food industry awaits revolutionary changes in ingredients, sales channels and packaging. Environmentally conscious owners are actively seeking non-meat protein sources such as plant, mushroom, and insect diets. Ingredient offerings with superfoods, ancient grains, herbs and probiotics are coming into the spotlight.
Digitalisation and artificial intelligence will also play an ever-growing part in pets’ lives. Online veterinary services can help create personalised nutrition plans and custom pet food based on breed, allergies, taste preferences, weight and body type as well as activity levels. The evolution of custom-made pet food will even lead to individually customised packaging and smaller print runs. The pet food packaging of the future will not only be sustainable and suited to owners’ packaging preferences, but could also feature personalised designs.
To capitalise on the rapid growth of the global pet food market, especially in the biggest markets located in North America and Western Europe, brands require innovative solutions to capture the attention of pet owners. Whether trends derive from new business landscapes or environmental concerns, consumer experience remains the driving factor behind pet food packaging innovations.
To better understand consumers and their pet food decision making processes, Mondi partners with a multitude of regional and global players to identify consumer likes and dislikes, as well as packaging features that could add convenience for end-users. With an in-depth examination of the customer journey, collaborative innovation can address common pain points in purchase behaviour, delivery and transport, unboxing experiences, daily use, storage habits and reuse, as well as the disposal of pet food packaging.
(1) 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 1 July 2020 reported by the European Central Bank Euromonitor International. The worl
(2) Euromonitor International. The World Market for Pet Care, 2019
(3) Mintel. The Future of Pet Food. 2019
(4) Quality, sustainability to dominate 2020 pet food trends https://www.petfoodindustry.com/articles/8737-quality-sustainability-to-dominate-2020-pet-food-trends?v=preview
(5) Dow Premium Pet Packaging Survey. 2019