As the human goes, so goes the pet. At least when it comes to food ingredients that are free from ... whatever the latest foodie fashion.
These "free from" products are helping to drive growth in the $30 billion pet food industry, reports market research publisher Packaged Facts in its latest “Pet Food in the U.S.”
Currently, a leader in the least-wanted ingredient in pet food is grain. Grain-free pet foods make up about a third of dog and cat food sales, accounting for more than $2 billion in sales for the pet specialty channel, which continues to expand.
"The human/animal bond phenomenon and the humanization of pets continue to be twin key catalysts for growth in the pet food industry,” says David Sprinkle, research director for Packaged Facts. "As an extension of these trends, pet owners are highly receptive to products similar to the ones they use for themselves. Not coincidentally, many of the pet foods entering the market today are directly reminiscent of human fare, no doubt appealing to the pet owner as much as the pet."
Many new pet food introductions incorporate human-grade ingredients or feature specialized formulations designed to treat health- and age-related conditions, according to Packaged Facts.
In the past year, there have been several notable grain-free pet food introductions, including Spring Natural's grain-free dry dinners for dogs and cats; Evanger's expanded Super Premium Dinners line for cats that now features three new grain-free and gluten-free exotic protein formulas; and Wellness Natural Pet Food's new Wellness TruFood.
Several other free-of claims have been proliferating in the industry, reports Packaged Facts, including gluten-free, corn-free, soy-free, non-GMO, potato/starch-free, and claims of no by-products, artificial ingredients, etc.