PET Food Processing - September 2020 - 12

"Besides adding variety
and offering a more
personalized mealtime
experience, wet with
dry combination feeding
is also a great way to
help cats get more
water in their diets."

TRENDS

Natalie Asaro, Petcurean

Petcurean is one of
only a few companies
offering minced meat
in its wet diets for cats,
adding variety in the
wet cat food space.
Petcurean

The trend toward function has given way to a lucrative
new ingredient taking the entire pet industry by storm:
CBD. Although it is not yet fully regulated or approved
by the FDA for use in animal food and treat products, the
use of hemp is spreading like wildfire in the pet treat and
supplement category. Another ingredient looking for approval by the FDA is insect protein.
"CBD oil, along with many insect-derived proteins and
even grocery leftovers, are hot topics in the industry right
now," Koester said. "Each comes with a wide array of regulatory hurdles to overcome, including safety, efficacy, and
labeling; however as these materials overcome the regulatory challenges and are approved for use, you will see them
quickly work their way into a wide variety of food, treat and
supplement formats due to the benefits that they provide."
As this subcategory gains momentum, it will become
important for brands to differentiate their products.
"There's a strong trend toward function," Mesnier
said. "And because everybody's trying to get up to speed,
you have to be truly innovative so you're not just one
more dental treat. That's why our product innovation
team works closely with our board-certified veterinary
nutritionists, because you need both to be successful."

Getting greener
Among many other industries, sustainability is becoming a focal point for pet food and treat brands. Utilizing
alternative protein sources, such as insects, is one way to
achieve it.
"Novel protein sources have moved from being positioned as limited ingredient diet options for perceived
food allergies to a responsible sourcing message centered
on sustainability," Koester said. "Insect protein and invasive species are two examples that a few manufacturers
have introduced, and it will be interesting to see how they
grow as sustainability continues to grow in importance
with pet owners."
Mesnier added, "Our product innovation team is getting
an increasing number of requests for more sustainable op-

12

PET FOOD PROCESSING | September 2020 | www.petfoodprocessing.net

tions. The market is still small for truly sustainable alternatives, but we are happy to contribute in helping companies
that are willing to invest in the future, through sourcing
of ethically raised animals, finding recyclable or upcycled
packaging alternatives, or partnering with solar or windpowered manufacturing facilities. Right now, of course, the
costs are still prohibitive, but it will get better as demand
from pet parents increases."

Not just for the dogs
Another trend seen first in the dog food market has begun to seep into cat products: the emergence of customizable diets for cats, delivered direct-to-consumer and
often on a subscription basis.
New York-based Smalls, for example, is offering personalized nutrition for cats through a variety of formats
and proteins and customizes diets based on age, weight
and current diet. These types of services are a step in the
right direction for innovation, as cat owners search for
new and more convenient ways to shop for pet food that
meets their felines' specific needs and preferences.

Catering to cats
With novelty and innovation in mind, the most important
consideration for processors is supporting cat health.
"It's important to always source the best ingredients
with science-proven macro and micronutrient profiles
that will keep cats thriving," Brassard said. "Another factor to keep in mind is that cats are becoming increasingly more popular, and that means that consumer preferences will continue to shift over time."
Processors should be on the lookout for shifting consumer demands and preferences, as well as opportunities to offer something fresh and uniquely catered to the
growing feline population.
"Cats are not small dogs," Koester succinctly pointed
out, "so you really need to view them separately from
a feeding experience, nutritional needs and consumer
perception perspective."
PFP


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PET Food Processing - September 2020

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