This article appears in Pets 2018 magazine.
Home-delivered meals, clear nutrition labels and better ingredients. No, that doesn’t refer to what we eat, but what our pets are eating.
The pet industry is booming, and Americans spend more on food ($29 billion) than on vet care and medicines, grooming and boarding, and even live animal purchases, according to the American Pet Products Association.
“Just like we have seen a trend in human food toward more natural, less processed and ‘clean eating,’ we have recently seen the same thing in pet food,” said Gabby Slome, co-founder of Ollie, a canine meal service that provides freshly cooked, human-grade food for dogs.
“People are increasingly caring more about what is in their food and where it comes from. There’s more awareness around what ingredients mean and all the fillers that are in many dog foods, and as a result are demanding cleaner labels with real ingredients,” Slome said.
The natural trend is nothing new, but now people are paying even closer attention to ingredients, sourcing and food preparation.
“Both online and in stores you are seeing more fresh and frozen pet food options,” Slome said. “People are really looking for protein as the first ingredient. They are also looking to ensure there isn’t wheat, gluten or soy. Shorter ingredient lists and words they can pronounce will become increasingly important.”
Pet parents are also seeking pet foods with health benefits.
“Consumers are absolutely starting to recognize food as preventative health for their dogs,” Slome said. “Being thoughtful about what you eat — high-quality proteins, fruits and vegetables and not having processed, artificial foods — is the best thing you can do.”
Consumers are opting for foods that target specific ailments, such as foods with fewer ingredients for pets with allergies, foods with fish oils for skin and coat health, or with glucosamine for hip and joint health, Slome said.