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A black and white bulldog with crackers and coffee for a pet article about the humanization of pet food

American Pet Products Association reported that pet ownership in the last 30 years has risen from 56% to 68% of households. According to ResearchAndMarkets, the global pet food market was worth $98.3 billion in 2018, growing at a CAGR of 5.3% from 2011 to 2018. The market is projected to reach $128.4 billion by 2024, growing at a CAGR of 4.5% between 2019 and 2024. In 2018, U.S. pet lovers spent $72.56 billion on their pets including food, supplies, vet care, grooming, and boarding. This is a 4% increase compared to 2017, according to American Pet Products Association.

Pets are like children and the experiential economy has humanized pet foods. Pet owners project their human needs onto their pets and research from Michelson Found Animals Foundation revealed that 70% of people who follow a diet for themselves admitted to putting their pet on a special diet too. The popular human food and beverage trends happening such as plant-based, vegan, probiotic and sustainable lifestyles are all being translated into pet food. According to a Luminer survey, terms like “natural,” “organic,” “holistic,” “human grade,” and “gourmet/premium” impact pet owners’ purchasing habits. Nearly half (45%) of pet owners said they were more inclined to purchase pet food labeled as “natural,” while less than a quarter (23%) said they were more inclined to purchase pet food labeled as “organic.”

Plant-Based / Vegan Pet Food: According to a November 23, 2018 article, one in six pet food suppliers has branched out into supplying vegan or vegetarian food for animals as owners embraced the new trend over ethical concerns with meat diets. Halo Holistic Garden of Vegan offers dry and wet food, as well as vegan treats for dogs made with protein-rich plant-based ingredients like peas, chickpeas, pearled barley, and oats. The brand won the prestigious 2018 VegNews “Best Dog Food” Award for its non-GMO complete and balanced diet. “Vegan is our fastest growing category of pet food and this award is a testament to pet parents who feed their dogs a vegan diet for its high-quality whole-food ingredients and because their dogs thrive on this delicious complete and balanced food,” stated Myron Lyskanycz, Halo CEO. San Francisco-based V-Dog is a vegan family-owned and operated premium plant-based pet food company. The Kinder Kibble is “a complete and balanced vegan formula [that] packs 24% protein with superfood ingredients like peas, lentils, and quinoa.” In March 2019, Wild Earth, a Berkeley biotech dog treat startup, struck a deal with “Shark Tank” entrepreneur Mark Cuban for the brand’s vegan and plant-based dog treats. Available in three flavors: Banana & CinnamonPeanut Butter, and Strawberry & Beet, the formula contains Koji, the fungi used to brew miso soup, soy sauce, and sake and gives food an umami flavor.

Probiotic Pet Food: Probiotic foods with a focus on gut health have been trending for the last few years. According to MarketsandMarkets, the probiotics market was worth $49.4 billion in 2018, growing at a CAGR of 7.0% from 2018 to 2023. The market is projected to reach $69.3 billion by 2023. Now pet food manufacturers are capitalizing on the human trend and have launched new probiotic pet foods. For example, Boss Dog Brand™ debuted a line of probiotic Frozen Greek Style Yogurt treats for dogs that “deliver the benefit of over 3 billion probiotic cultures per cup.” According to the brand, the treats are made with real yogurt, use 100% human grade, non-GMO ingredients and contain protein. In addition, the products are free-from lactose, gluten, soy, corn, and wheat and contain no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. Wildology pet food is formulated with Superlife Pro™, “a blend of nutrient-rich superfoods and antioxidants, and patent-pending probiotics to support your pet’s digestive and immune systems and help promote overall wellness.” The recipes include ingredients such as kale, blueberries, carrots and chia seeds and do not contain artificial colors, artificial flavors, artificial preservatives, wheat, corn, soy, legumes, peas, or dairy.

Sustainable Pet Food: Insects have a low environmental impact and are a good source of protein. In the last five years, insects as an alternative protein have been explored for human consumption in food and beverages. Recently, UK brand Yora Pet Foods introduced a line of high-protein pet food made from insects. The company’s “Green Insect Pet food” is “made from 100% insect protein, grain-free, low allergenic potential, sustainable and an environmentally friendly delicacy for the modern canine household” and is formulated with black soldier fly larvae, oats, potato, kale, seaweed, and chicory. RootLab, a Purina startup, is “creating a new approach to safe, sustainable ingredients and packaging” of dog food made with nutritional ingredients such as carp, cod, and crickets. There are four varieties: Asian Carp & Sprouted Barley, Chicken, Egg & CricketChicken Organs & Ancient Grains, and Cod & Chickpea. In addition, the packaging is made with 18% post-consumer recycled material and the packaging plastic is made with 50% wind energy.

Dinner Date: The amenities that humans have, such as restaurants, bars and delivery service are now catering to pet owners and their pets. California-based multi-unit Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar offers a menu just for dogs and serves grilled hamburger patty with brown rice or grilled chicken with brown rice with a complimentary bowl of water. Smith & Whistle in London features “Dogtails” a cocktail menu designed especially for dogs. For example, the Bow Wow Bubbly is a “Pawsecco’ herbal infusion using elderflower, linden blossom and ginseng topped with blueberries,” while the Poochie Colada “is a mixture of kale, broccoli, and coconut water” and Hound’S Hops “is a blend of specially brewed dog beer and fresh mint.” Bushwick Brooklyn Ollie’s Ice + Stuff, is an ice cream parlor for humans and their dogs. The shop offers “Peanut Butter Pumpkin Butt,” a dog-friendly ice-cream made of pumpkin puree, no-sugar peanut butter, and a fat-free cashew yogurt. In November 2018, Burger King unveiled the Dogpper, a dog bone with BK’s flame-grilled taste for a limited time. It was part of a DoorDash promotion and was delivered when a Whopper was ordered. The Farmer’s Dog is a subscription-based pet food company that delivers crafted fresh pet food. The company offers various food plans via a customized profile for each dog based on breed, size, activity level, and sensitivities.

Pets, like children, are an extension of us. The human lifestyle trends happening in the marketplace are trickling down into pet food and pet services. Expect to see more crafted, premium food and beverage products and services marketed to humans for their pets.

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