CHICAGO — The connection between humans and their pets is evolving with Millennials and Gen Zers leading the way in pet ownership. As pets transform from companion status to valued family members, consumers are seeking a variety of nutritional products to support them, driving growth in the pet food and treat industry.

In its 2023 Insights Report, ADM identified three major categories within pet nutrition expected to lead future growth — balanced wellness, proactive personalization and sustainability.


A growing market

Euromonitor forecasted the global pet nutrition market to grow at an average 4.3% CAGR through 2026. According to the market research firm, the global market has increased steadily, reaching $123 billion in sales in 2022, a 3.3% increase from 2021, and is expected to achieve $146 billion in sales by 2026.

Regionally, Euromonitor anticipates that the Asia-Pacific (APAC) and Latin American (LATAM) regions will lead the way in this growth, with a CAGR from 2022 to 2026 of 7.6% and 7.0%, respectively, well above the global average. The Middle East has a CAGR of 4.3%, Eastern Europe is at 3.9%, North America is at 3.4%, and Western Europe has the lowest CAGR at 2.1%.

Increasing pet ownership is ultimately furthering this global growth in pet nutrition demand. According to Euromonitor, consumer demand has significantly accelerated growth in many pet nutrition segments, with treats and premium products leading the overall market.


Complete wellness

In ensuring the overall health and wellness of their companions, pet parents are increasingly interested in their pet’s gut and microbiome health. According to Marketplace’s Psychographics and Behaviors report from the 2022 NASC Annual Conference, 27% of US pet supplement shoppers have sought information about their pets microbiome in the past year. Additionally, 60% of pet parents would like if their pet’s food carried a digestive health benefit to support overall wellness, according to Mintel’s Supplements Can Support the Wellness Trend for Pets 2021 report.

With this in mind, ADM claims that human-grade bacterial strains aren’t just useful in the human food space but can be leveraged in pet nutrition as well. Prebiotics, probiotics and postbiotics have been clinically proven to support microbiome and gut health, as well as digestive, oral and even mental health. Other ingredients, like botanicals and plant extracts, have also shown promise in supporting health and wellness in pets, targeting digestion, immune and skin and coat health, according to ADM.

With science backing the potential functional benefits of these ingredients for pets, many manufacturers have launched health supplements and new diets formulated with biotics and other solution-based ingredients to offer gut health and wellness benefits to pets.

Aside from gut and microbiome health, pet owners are seeking a variety of products offering other functional benefits. According to ADM, owners with younger pets are specifically seeking products to support overall lifelong wellness, while those with older pets are purchasing more tailored solutions, like those that support joints or mobility.

 The Better Cat's cat food formulasWith interest in biotic ingredients rising, The Better Cat formulated its cat nutrition products to include pre- and probiotics. (Source: The Better Cat)

According to Euromonitor, pet parents are most interested in supplements that support anxiety, mobility/joint health, immune health, skin and coat, liver and kidney function, and digestive health.

Though supplements offer the most targeted functional benefits, consumers are also interested in the benefits offered by pet food formulas and treats. According to Mintel, the most popular functional benefits that pet owners are seeking in pet food and treats include those that support digestion, muscles, joints and bones, skin and coat health, and the immune system.

In supporting their pets wellness, pet parents are also interested in products that offer something other than functional benefits. According to FMCG Gurus’ Pet Care Health in 2022 report, two-thirds of global pet owners are interested in products with new or unique flavors to provide their pets with variety. Within this vein, ADM revealed that foods with eye-catching colors, flavors and interesting shapes are trending for consumers, including dog ice cream, squeezable cat treats, and seasonal holiday products.


Making it personal

To support their pet’s overall health and wellness, pet parents are also searching for more personalized nutrition products. According to FMCG Gurus, 40% of global pet owners have used various foods, treats, supplements and other products to support their pet’s wellness. Additionally, 88% of US pet parents claim that preventive measures, including those offered by nutrition, are important to help them protect their pet’s health, according to Mintel.

Dog Standards' fresh, human-grade dog food formulasWith personalization at the forefront of many pet parents’ minds, Canada-based Dog Standards offers personalized, human-grade dog food formulas. (Source: Dog Standards)

Consumers are beginning to understand that pets have individual needs and should be fed to support those needs, discarding the “one-size-fits-all” approach. Following this, more and more pet parents are purchasing products that are marketed as more tailored solutions.

As well as personalized products, pet owners are also seeking products that mirror the ones they consume themselves, with additional scrutiny in a formula’s ingredients. According to ADM, pet parents are looking for products that boast fresher, less-processed ingredients and trying to avoid those that contain artificial ingredients.


Reducing the ‘paw-print’

Consumers aren’t just concerned about their pets’ health but are also increasingly worried about their own — and their pets’ — impact on the environment. Sixty-five percent of global consumers try to make a positive impact on the environment through their everyday actions and product purchasing decisions, according to Mintel.

Canidae's environmental effortsCanidae’s mission is to provide nutrient-dense pet food while reducing its impact on the planet through regenerative agriculture practices and sustainable packaging initiatives. (Photo by Michael J. Madsen Photography)

Pet parents are purchasing more and more products that feature responsible or ethically sourced benefits, as well as those for their pets.

According to FMCG Gurus, more than 42% of pet owners claim they want to buy pet food formulas with sustainably sourced ingredients, and 20% claim they “always” or “usually” make pet food purchasing decisions based on their environmental concerns.


Driving growth

Within these three major trends, ADM highlighted several growth opportunities within pet nutrition:

  • Functional supplements that support both physical and mental health
  • Science-based, species-specific formulas that support proactive health management
  • Indulgent treats and toppers that elevate the feeding experience and also support emotional wellbeing
  • Fresh, human-grade foods that can be customized
  • Ingredient transparency and traceability
  • Inclusion of culinary and quality production attributes
  • Novel proteins that offer sustainability benefits
  • Products that help secure the human-animal bond

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