Pet care is generally considered recession-resistant and core necessities of pet care are likely to remain relatively stable even during challenging economic times. Indicating strong resilience, pet food, treats and other products accounted for 39% of Nestle’s overall online sales in 2022. However, while pet owners will keep feeding their furry friends even during economic downturns, a new sustainability trend is taking shape in the pet care industry.
Pet owners are experiencing a growing apprehension for the planet’s future, prompting sustainable adjustments. According to Euromonitor International’s Global Lifestyles Survey data, these ecological worries are notably heightened among pet owners compared to those without pets. Nearly 70% of pet owners worldwide express concern about climate change and actively strive to exert a positive influence on the environment through their everyday choices. This trend suggests a promising avenue for the expansion of pet food crafted from sustainable components.
Paired with the ongoing societal shift toward treating pets like human family members, evident in the continuous introduction of products such as functional supplements, pet backpacks, personalized attire, and mobile veterinary and grooming facilities, it’s unsurprising that the industry is flourishing. In the United States, millennials constitute the largest segment of pet owners, accounting for 32%, and they are allocating an average of $133 per month for their pets, as highlighted by PetKeen. Additionally, the prominent trend of humanizing pets is being primarily driven by millennial and Gen Z pet parents, who are deeply committed to enhancing their pets’ health and well-being. Nevertheless, pet owners spanning various age groups and income brackets are displaying a growing inclination toward ensuring the welfare of their furry companions.
Indeed, the pet care industry is following other global trends in competing for consumer wallets namely by focusing on developing sustainable and eco-friendly products. A recent study by NielsenIQ showed that a whopping 78 percent of US consumers say that a sustainable lifestyle is important to them. In addition, several pet care brands now use mushrooms as a source of protein for pets because it requires fewer resources to produce when compared to conventional meat sources.
Many new companies are answering the call for high quality and sustainable pet care products.
US-based Meow Mews, creator of design-centric wellness havens for cats, recently kicked off its crowdfunding campaign for “Tree,” a debut collection of sustainable and modular pet furniture. “The product line is right at the intersection of design and functionality, while also encouraging the health and wellness of our purring connoisseurs. Crafted with natural, raw materials,” said the company’s founder Netta Dor Shalgi.
“Cat owners have a special relationship with the animals they share an abode with, but the industry standard for feline furniture does not take the needs of cats or their owners into account,” Shalgi added.
Signaling further a move towards consumers thinking in sustainable terms, earlier this year, Mars Petcare, Plastic Credit Exchange (PCX) and Pet Express kicked off a collection and recycling plan for mixed post-consumer flexible pet food packaging in the Philippines.
“As more Filipino shoppers are willing to shift to sustainable practices, this presents us an opportunity to invest in eco-friendly practices and take the lead in meeting consumer needs while reducing waste and increasing circularity,” said Johnny Racoma, general manager for Mars Petcare in the Philippines.
In July, pet wellness startup Lyka developing preventive, holistic pet health care through fresh nutrition raised $25 million to provide an alternative to processed foods. Vegan food for pets is also seeing momentum. In 2022, Lever VC joined a $17.5m funding round in Bond Pet Foods. The company is creating “nature-identical” chicken, beef, fish and other meat proteins using precision fermentation.
There’s a mounting trend among pet owners to pursue products that they deem not only beneficial for their pets and themselves but also for the environment. In fact, animal lovers are interacting with wildlife in ways that don’t take them out of their ecosystems, too. More than 45 million Americans identified as bird-watchers in 2016, a number that has since exploded following a pandemic-fuelled “birding boom.”
Nature Anywhere, a company that has built a transparent bird feeder called the Birds-I-View Window Feeder, has created a mini bird-watching conservatory that gives bird lovers exposure to wildlife outside of the home.
This same trend among pet owners to prioritize animal health and sustainability underscores a significant expansion in the realm of more sustainable and healthier pet food ingredients. Data suggests that companies capable of capitalizing on this emerging growth frontier are poised for strong performance over the next few years.