CHICAGO — ADM debuted its third annual outlook on consumer trends likely to shape the food, beverage and animal nutrition industries. The company has highlighted various trends — protein shifts, traceability, sustainability, social impact and modern pet ownership — that will drive market growth in the coming years.

“Often interconnected, these key themes are permeating throughout consumers’ choices, demands and expectations of brands,” said Brad Schwan, vice president of marketing for ADM. “The desire for a healthy mind, body and soul, as well as the global community and planet, is manifesting in proactive and decisive conscientious consumption across categories.”


Protein shifts

According to ADM’s Outside Voice℠ report, 52% of consumers consider themselves to be flexitarians, integrating both animal- and plant-based proteins into their diets and driving the demand for more plant-based protein options. Pet food protein demand is also shifting alongside this trend.

With consumers reevaluating their pets’ diets to better align with their own eating habits, demand for alternative proteins in pet nutrition continues to rise. From insect-based and novel/exotic proteins to cultured meats, the industry continues to push the boundaries of what’s possible for meat alternatives. Pet food companies like Jiminy’s, Because, Animals, Wild Earth, Bond Pet Foods and others are leading the way, developing and integrating various protein alternatives into their formulations and catering to consumer demand.

As consumers continue to change their eating habits, and change those of their pets, ADM estimates that scientific advancements will become more common, especially in cellular agriculture, precision fermentation and hybrid formulations.


Traceability, sustainability and social impact

Aside from product formulation, ADM has also found that consumers are becoming more aware of a company’s values regarding traceability, ethics and environmental friendliness.

According to ADM, consumers are interested in the traceability of their food, as well as their pets’ food. From specific ingredients and their origins to the supplier providing them, consumers have developed a need for full transparency. This need for transparency comes in part from food safety concerns, according to ADM.

Open Farm has taken this trend from human nutrition and applied it to a variety of its pet nutrition formulations. As consumer interest in traceability rises, pet food companies — and suppliers — will have to adjust to provide consumers with more transparency.

As transparency in human and pet nutrition continues to evolve, it is anticipated that consumers will look for more companies that leverage technology, like QR codes or block chain, allowing for full ingredient traceability and communicating trust and transparency.

Consumers are also growing more aware of the impact food production has on the environment, with 49% changing their diet within the past two years to create a more environmentally friendly lifestyle, according to ADM. According to FMCG Gurus’ 2022 “Route to Sustainability Report” shared by ADM, 42% of consumers have become more trusting of environmental claims made by food products in the past two years.

In the coming years, consumers are likely to demand a higher standard of sustainability, calling for proof of environmental rebuilding and restoration from human and pet food companies.

Along the vein of sustainability, ADM revealed that consumers are also focusing on a company’s social and ethical practices, including fair and humane treatment of people and animals involved within food production. According to ADM, nearly 30% of consumers have boycotted a brand or product because of a lack of ethical credentials, and 40% specifically look for brands that assure that farmers have been treated ethically.

This concern for ethics and social impact has also jumped into the pet nutrition space, with many pet nutrition companies boasting animal welfare certifications, like those from the Global Animal Partnership (GAP), as well as social and environmental achievements. This trend is only set to continue for consumers, forcing pet food companies to reevaluate their own business practices and forcing suppliers to adhere to more ethical practices.


Modern pet ownership

Not only are the above trends thriving in the human food space, but they are also growing in the pet food and treat industry. With premiumization and humanization trends expanding, modern pet owners are requiring that pet nutrition meet human nutrition standards.

As consumers begin to pay more attention to their pets’ health and wellness, demand is expected to increase for more nutrition products supporting health concerns, from supplements and active ingredients to functional formulations.

According to FMCG Gurus’ 2022 “Pet Care Health Report,” more than 60% of cat and dog owners throughout the globe claim that health ingredients for their pets are important. ADM estimated that this increased awareness in pet health and wellness will lead to a holistic approach to care and nutrition, with more products targeting mental and gut health, as well as more personalized products formulated to consider exercise and diet specifications.

“As consumers look to prioritize what is most important to them, they want nutrition brands to do the same,” Schwan said. “Companies that can nimbly evolve alongside consumers are poised for success in the coming year and beyond.”

Keep up with the latest pet food trends on our Trends page.