MANNHEIM, GERMANY — A recent global survey of dog and cat owners revealed pet owners continue to prioritize nutritional efficacy, health and sustainability above price when choosing their furry companions’ diets, even during times of high inflation.

According to BENEO, who commissioned the survey of 2,500 dog and cat owners across the United States, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Germany and China through FMCG Gurus, only about 17% of pet owners have transitioned to cheaper pet food products as a result of budget pressure, while 90% of pet owners have observed pet food price increases over the last year.

“The findings of this latest pet owner survey highlight that even in times of inflation, nutritional value and health remain a priority for pet food purchasers,” said Maygane Ronsmans, Ph.D., product manager of animal nutrition at BENEO.

Clearly, brand loyalty continues to be a factor for this non-discretionary category, with proven and premium products underpinning this consumer behavior. More than half of survey respondents said they would still pay more for premium, science-backed and health-promoting pet food products. In fact, price was considered less important to a pet food purchasing decision than ingredient quality, nutritional value, health claims and palatability, according to the survey.

Why are pet owners switching pet foods?Graphic by Sosland Publishing Co. / Jordan Tyler | Read more from the source of this statistic.

A steadfast preference for health-promoting pet foods is borne out of the humanization of pets, with 80% of pet owners surveyed saying their pets’ health is as important as their own health. While there are several common need states circulating the pet nutrition market, digestive health has emerged as a primary concern with the potential to impact other key systems in a pet’s body.

As the industry’s understanding of the microbiome informs the way pet foods are formulated, consumers are also catching on to the gut-health connection, with more than 75% claiming the digestive system influences health beyond the gut. More than one-third of pet owners surveyed said they are already feeding their pet a diet with digestive health claims, and nearly half admitted they associate prebiotics with positive gut health. From their perspective, the most eye-catching claims are “digestive comfort and wellbeing,” “promotes digestive health naturally,” and “supports a healthy and balanced digestive system.”

Pet owners are also becoming increasingly agreeable to plant-based proteins, primarily from a sustainability standpoint. While protein quality and content are key pet food purchasing considerations for 70% of pet owners surveyed, sustainability claims are considered by 80%, and more than half of pet owners said they believe plant-based proteins are better for the environment than traditional animal-based proteins.

Several of BENEO’s ingredient offerings are specifically tailored to meeting these consumer demands. For example, the company’s Orafti Inulin and Oligofructose from chicory root are proving label-friendly prebiotic solutions for supporting digestive health. On the sustainability side, BENEO offers vegetal proteins from faba bean, wheat and rice to offer environmentally friendly ingredient solutions. According to BENEO, 80% of pet owners consider faba bean a sustainable ingredient.

“Thanks to a versatile range of plant-based ingredients with technical, nutritional and health-promoting benefits, as well as longstanding expertise in healthy nutrition, BENEO is well equipped to help manufacturers bring to market innovative and relevant pet food products that meet consumer demand, even in a tough economic climate,” Ronsmans said.

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