KANSAS CITY, MO. — As the pet food processing industry gears up for a digital Global Pet Expo experience next week, show organizers have offered an extensive lineup of educational sessions to connect, inform and engage attendees.

Several sessions will be held each day during Global Pet Expo Digital Access, the virtual adaptation of the typically in-person trade show hosted March 24 to 26.

The American Pet Products Association (APPA) and Pet Industry Distributors Association (PIDA) have facilitated 23 total hours of educational programming through its Global Learning Series, a new-and-improved series of keynote presentations and sessions geared toward retailers, distributors and manufacturers.

APPA and PIDA announced in December the show would be moved online due to the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Below are some sessions that pet food and treat manufacturers may want to mark on their show schedules.


Day One: Wednesday, March 24

12:00-12:40 p.m.: Steve King, president and chief executive officer of APPA, and Celeste Powers, certified association executive (CAE) and president of PIDA, will kick off the Global Learning Series with a keynote presentation on the state of the industry. King and Powers will present key pet ownership data and trends seen throughout 2020, and explore the opportunities ahead in 2021.

1:00-1:40 p.m.: Julie Springer, market research analyst for APPA, will discuss the impacts of COVID-19 on pet ownership in the United States. Springer will share data from APPA’s latest Pet Owners Survey and its COVID-19 Pulse Study series, detailing consumer sentiments and behaviors, purchasing and consumption trends seen in 2020.

1:45-2:00 p.m.: Trends in the natural pet product space will be discussed next in a mini session, hosted by Amy Kerr, director of business development at SPINS, a wellness-focused data technology company based in Chicago.

2:00-2:40 p.m.: Directly following her natural pet product trends talk, Kerr will present on “Pet Innovation in the Marketplace.” This session will discuss everything from “hot functional ingredients” to how natural and organic products compare to traditional ones, and how these trends mirror health and wellness trends for humans.

2:45-3:00 p.m.: Caitlyn Dudas, co-founder and executive director of Pet Sustainability Coalition (PSC), will discuss her organization’s work in supporting 200 pet industry companies in their goals to the reduce negative environmental and social impacts of their businesses.

3:00-3:40 p.m.: David Sprinkle, research director and publisher for Packaged Facts, will present the outlook and trends for the United States pet market in 2021, “from an omni-market, cross-sector perspective.” Sprinkle will cover key COVID-19 issues faced by the industry, retail channel shifts, trends toward subscription products and services, product personalization, evolving pet owner preferences and more.

4:00-4:40 p.m.: Wrapping up the first day of the Global Learning Series, Dave Bolen, chief executive officer of The Bolen Group and previous president and chief executive officer of Pet Supplies Plus, will give a “Retail Market Tour,” highlighting leading pet retail outlets in the United States and sharing in-store merchandising strategies, as well as insights from leading retailers in the pet specialty, mass market and e-commerce channels.


Day Two: Thursday, March 25

12:00-12:40 p.m.: Mark Kalaygian, publishing director and editor in chief for Pet Business, will kick off the second day of the Global Learning Series with his keynote on “The New Normal in Retail.” Kalaygian will discuss pandemic-era challenges, channel shifts and strategies used to continue serving customers in challenging times. This keynote will include a panel of independent and neighborhood pet specialty store representatives.

1:00-1:40 p.m.: “The Future of Pet Care: Global Trends and Opportunities” will be presented by Jared Koerten, industry manager of food and nutrition at Euromonitor International, who will discuss new opportunities for growth in the pet industry. The topic will cover retail channel shifts, sustainability, trending product claims and formats, and pet ownership implications.

2:45-3:00 p.m.: Representatives of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) will present their goals for 2021 and beyond, as well as how pet industry companies can get involved, in a mini session about the organization.

3:00-3:40 p.m.: Lynn Switanowski, president of Creative Business Consulting Group, will discuss planning and preparing for future “chaos,” such as the interruptions and complications caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Switanowski will share strategies that businesses can use to stay flexible when dealing with business disruptions and difficulties.

3:00-3:40 p.m.: A Nielsen representative will take a deep-dive into the pet retail landscape, how it changed in 2020, and what it may look like going forward, including lasting COVID-19 impacts.


Day Three: Friday, March 26

12:00-12:40 p.m.: Dr. Nika White, president and chief executive officer of Nika White Consulting and author of “The Intentional Inclusionist,” will present the final keynote of the 2021 Global Learning Series, focusing on diversity and inclusion as a leadership function. White will discuss how pet industry companies can foster inclusion-minded leadership, embrace intercultural differences and address unconscious biases in business.

1:00-1:40 p.m.: “Now is the Time to Expand Your Exports,” urges Laurie Wolff, speaker, author and distinguished fellow of NASBITE International. In this session, Wolff will identify top export markets for pet industry products, trade assistance programs available to industry members, and other insights and resources to help companies expand or establish international distribution.

3:00-3:40 p.m.: Finally, attendees will celebrate diversity in the industry through a presentation by Nancy Hassel, founder and president of American Pet Professionals. Hassel will host a panel discussion of diverse pet industry professionals as they detail their career choices and insights for creating a more inclusive industry.

Find the full Global Learning Series agenda on the Global Pet Expo website.


What to expect at Global Pet Expo Digital Access

Global Pet Expo Digital Access organizers will send out daily emails to keep attendees abreast of what’s in store for each day of the virtual show. Aside from its robust Global Learning Series, the show will feature virtual exhibitor booths and a digital New Product Showcase. New Product Showcase winners for each product category will be announced at 4 p.m. on Friday, March 26.


Read more of our Global Pet Expo coverage here.

Read more about pet food and treat industry events.