SELAH, WASH. — Health is taking center stage in the eyes of pet owners both in the United States and across the pond in the United Kingdom. According to Mintel and Tree Top Ingredients’ report “Trends in Pet Food: June 2023,” 79% of US pet food purchasers are willing to pay more for healthier pet food products, and 60% of those in the United Kingdom make their pet food purchasing decisions based on how healthy the formula is.

These consumers are turning toward all-natural product claims as they seek these healthier options. Among pet owners in the United States, 38% are specifically seeking all-natural pet food products. Approximately 18% of new pet food products launched in 2023 carry an all-natural claim, according to Mintel.

Globally, the number of pet food launches claiming to be natural has risen steadily from 32% of new products in 2013 to 51% of new products in 2022. In North America, new pet food launches with all-natural claims have risen from 16% of new products in 2018 to 19% in 2022.

This trend also speaks to the humanization of pets and what pet owners are now looking for on their pet food labels — or, rather, what these shoppers aren’t looking for.

Mintel reported roughly 46% of new pet food products launched in 2023 are touting “no additives/preservatives.” Free-from claims among these products also shows 34% of new products are marketed as “free from added/artificial flavorings,” 33% claim “free from added/artificial preservatives,” and 24% claim “free from added/artificial colorings.” In Brazil, 45% of pet owners said they prefer buying pet food that is free from artificial ingredients, their logic being that these products are healthier for their pets compared to those containing artificial ingredients.

From 2018 to 2022 in North America, new pet food products with “no additives/preservatives” claims achieved the greatest in number but plateaued, fluctuating between 48% and 44% of new products per year. GMO-free and organic claims are also noted here, with new products touting GMO-free claims rising from 3% of new products in 2018 to 7% in 2022, and those with organic claims remaining steady around 3% of new product launches per year.

Other notable net pet food product claims include “low/no/reduced allergen” at 40% of launches in 2023, as well as “vitamin/mineral fortified” claims at 21% of products.

Showing an unwavering dedication to these health-focused preferences, pet food shoppers are taking a self-sacrificing approach to their overall spending amid financial concerns. According to the report, 63% of pet food purchasers in the United Kingdom said they would be more likely to reduce their own food expenditures before cutting spending on their pets’ food.

This sentiment has been reflected in other recent consumer studies, including MarketPlace’s recent survey of pet supplement shoppers in the United States, which showed the vast majority of this audience would rather cut their own spending on entertainment, apparel, or other categories before reducing the amount they spend on their pets. Additionally, Vericast shared in a recent report that 78% of pet owners surveyed (n=700) said they are willing to increase pet food and treat spending this year compared to last year.

Mintel also shared more than half (54%) of pet owners find the abundance of options on-shelf make it challenging to select the right pet food for their furry companions. Additionally, casting a wide net and making a myriad of claims could do more harm than good in the eyes of the consumer, according to Mintel. Products with only a few, focused health claims are considered more trustworthy for 34% of German pet food consumers, compared to those that claim several benefits.

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