ORLANDO, FLA. — Pet care brands of all sizes crowded the Global Pet Expo 2024 show floor in Orlando from March 20 to 22 to network, learn and conduct business. The sold-out exposition attracted more than 1,100 companies, including 300 first-time exhibitors, and thousands of retailers and buyers to peruse more than 1,000 new products.

“The pet industry is evolving to meet the growing needs of pets and pet parents, with some of the most creative minds working to improve the lives of pets,” said Peter Scott, president and chief executive officer of the American Pet Products Association (APPA), organizer of the show alongside the Pet Industry Distributors Association (PIDA).

In walking this year’s tradeshow, the Pet Food Processing editorial team noticed several trends driving the industry forward, but it seems that one main trend is fueling nearly all others — humanization. Whether it’s about making our pets’ food look more like our own, catching up with consumer demand for sustainable packaging and ingredient sourcing, or offering pet owners a relatable way to deepen the bond with their four-legged companions, humanization is transcending price points, product categories and formats to deliver the very best for pets.

Continue reading for more on the top three trends we noticed at Global Pet Expo 2024.



Fromm Diner Breakfast wet dog foodsSource: Sosland Publishing Co. / Jordan Tyler

While the traditional round-and-brown pet food format may still rule the roost in terms of dollar sales, the line between food for people and food for pets is becoming increasingly blurry. From visual inclusions to human-grade ingredients, humanization continues to drive innovation in the industry, and players in this space are creating products that speak to indulgence on one hand and healthfulness on the other as they seek to meet consumers’ evolving expectations.

Speaking to this humanization, Fromm Family Foods showcased Diner Breakfast, the latest innovation in its diner-themed portfolio of wet dog foods. Three new recipes — Betty’s Biscuits & Gravy Pork and Eggs Recipe in Gravy, Sam’s Steak & Eggs Beef and Eggs Recipe in Gravy, and Maddie’s Morning Hash Beef and Sweet Potato Recipe — join an existing lineup of diner classics including Charlie’s Chicken Pot Pie Pâté, Milo’s Meatloaf Pâté, Chicken Canine Bleu Entrée in Gravy, Skipper’s Seafood Chowder Stew, and other humanized ingredient combinations for dogs.

Swell, a brand of gelato treats for dogs, highlighted its highly humanized dog treats at the show, as well as its line of Gourmet Dog Food Toppers. One corner of Swell’s booth at Global Pet Expo 2024 was teeming with fresh fruits and vegetables, a testament to the brand’s commitment to wholesome ingredients and handmade treats. The Dog Gelato line includes Banana Peanut Butter, Pumpkin Cheddar, Sweet Potato Molasses, My Chill Time, It’s My Barkday, and Spiced Pumpkin Nog flavors, while its Gourmet Dog Food Toppers are available in Honey Glazed Carrots, Sweet Potato Medley and Veggie Cheddar Melange recipes.  

Swell gelato for dogsSource: Sosland Publishing Co. / Nicole Kerwin

New Zealand-based Animals for Us debuted its new RawMix50 complete-and-balanced dry dog food, which aims to “bridge the gap” between premium kibble and even more premium freeze-dried and fresh diets, according to the company. The company is referring to the combination of high-protein kibble and freeze-dried meat and organ chunks as “granola for dogs,” wherein the kibble accounts for 50% of the diet and the other 50% is freeze-dried inclusions.

The Butcher’s Pup, a relatively young brand with roots in meat manufacturing, highlighted its Sous-Vide Sausages for Dogs at the show. The first-to-market product features ¼-lb sausages, available in either beef, chicken or pork recipes, each of which are complete-and-balanced and made with natural hog casings. While The Butcher’s Pup leverages nutritional and manufacturing expertise from parent company Leone Fine Foods, the brand runs segregated production and sources all human-grade pet food ingredients specifically for the sausages and other sous-vide dog food products it offers.

Nulo’s new Gently-Cooked Homestyle Meals offer shredded proteins and ancient grains mixed with visual inclusions of diced fruits and vegetables. Available in six flavors — Beef and Sweet Potato, Turkey and Green Bean, Salmon and Brown Rice, Duck and Quinoa, Pork and Apple, and Chicken and Quinoa — these minimally processed, complete-and-balanced recipes mimic the look of fresh pet foods in a shelf-stable, fully-cooked format.

Bredwell SMOOCHES dog treatsSource: Bredwell

Bredwell, an Illinois-based dog food and treat brand, made its Global Pet Expo debut this year. The women-owned, hand-crafted dog nutrition brand showcased its SMOOCHES heart-shaped “candies for canines,” which are produced at its Barrington facility. SMOOCHES are available in several flavors, including strawberry and carob chip. The product won third place in the Modern Pet category of the New Product Showcase Best in Show Awards.


Format frenzy

Some members of the industry argue it’s difficult to launch true innovation in such a proliferated category as pet nutrition. This sentiment does not apply, however, to the few brands who introduced products made from processes not yet widely used for pet food at this year’s show. These new form factors and processes are looking to lock in nutrients by leveraging lower processing temperatures, and some are even targeting lower price points to entice new consumers to trade up to something more premium.

Earlier this year, and after three years of R&D, Primal Pet Foods introduced a new pet food format through its Kibble in the Raw line, which was a key highlight at the company’s booth at Global Pet Expo. The new diets contain raw protein with steam-cooked sorghum, which is pre-gelatinized to assist with digestibility and forming without subjecting other ingredients to high-heat temperatures typical of kibble processing. The company’s proprietary process combines the protein and grain with cold-pressed fish oils and air-dried organic produce ingredients in a small-batch cold process, which is then freeze-dried to preserve freshness. The result is a nutritionally dense, shelf-stable diet that feeds like raw with the convenience of kibble.

ZIWI Steam & Dried dog and cat foodSource: ZIWI

ZIWI debuted Steam & Dried, a new ultra-premium offering for dogs and cats, an answer to consumer demand for high-quality nutrition that supports pet wellness without breaking the bank. The diets are formulated with functional fruits and vegetables to support digestion and gut health in dogs, as well as wild-caught fish rich in Omega 3 to support skin and coat health in cats. Formulas are brought together through a proprietary process dubbed Z-MicroSteam™, in which ingredients are micro-steamed before being gently air-dried. The company hopes Steam & Dried will offer consumers a more entry-level price point for raw alternative nutrition.

In addition to its new Gently-Cooked Homestyle Meals, Nulo also unleashed a new pet food format leveraging cold processing technology. The new Cold-Pressed line, developed by pet nutrition scientist Gerg Aldrich, Ph.D., addresses the gap between minimally processed diets, conventional dry kibble and freeze- or air-dried formats. The format leverages a raw ingredient chilling system specifically designed to lock-in nutrient integrity, preserving higher levels of vitamins, minerals and amino acids that are often depleted using conventional, high-heat kibble manufacturing, according to Nulo.

Alongside these new formats and processes, the freeze-dried, air-dried and minimally processed categories of the pet nutrition industry continue to gain steam. Established players in this space are bringing new products to market, and emerging brands are entering this space as minimally processed messaging strikes a chord with consumers.

Within this vein, Fromm Family Foods showcased its latest Bonnihill Farms fresh dog food portfolio, marking its entrance into the fresh/frozen category. Inspired by the family-owned company’s farming heritage, the new line includes fresh recipes produced in small batches and formulated with locally sourced ingredients from the Midwest.

Nulo Cold-Pressed food for dogsSource: Nulo

Additionally, Instinct Pet Food debuted its rawboost Shakers, a line of freeze-dried raw protein meal toppers in a powdered format. The Shakers are intended to add taste and function to a pet’s existing diet simply by sprinkling on top of food or mixing with water.


Doubling down on dental health

Much like conversations around the microbiome, pet nutrition brands are now turning to oral health as a platform for addressing total health and wellness in dogs and cats. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, periodontal disease is the most common dental condition in cats and dogs. By the time most of these pets reach three years old, they will very likely have some early evidence of the painful disease. And just like humans, oral health issues for pets don’t just stay in the mouth, but can cause issues throughout other parts of the body.

This has led to an explosion of dental health products for pets, through which brands are hoping to reduce buildup on teeth, freshen breath, and fortify the oral microbiome.

Stella & Chewy’s entered the dental category with its Dental Delights for dogs in February. The chews are designed to roll and flip, providing dogs with stimulation while also promoting oral health. They consist of a ridge and nub texture to help with flossing and scraping teeth, and contain peppermint and parsley flakes to freshen breath.

Nestlé Purina PetCare introduced new SKUs under its DentaLife portfolio targeting oral health for puppies and senior dogs. DentaLife Puppy Teething Chews are raw-hide free and fortified with DHA, EPA and calcium to support oral health in teething pups. The brand also launched DentaLife Plus, a limited line of functional dental chews for adult dogs. DentaLife Plus Immune Support is formulated with vitamins E and C to support immune health, and DentaLife Plus Digestive Support is formulated with ProGut™, a proprietary blend that supports a healthy gut microbiome.

An emerging ingredient — insect protein — is also lending itself to the trend toward dental health. According to a recent study by Protix, dogs fed diets formulated with its ProteinX© meal showed a 7% decrease in volatile sulfur compound-producing bacteria in dental plaque, as well as increased the presence of beneficial bacteria in their saliva.

Capitalizing on this research is Jiminy’s, an insect-based pet nutrition brand leveraging crickets, grubs and black soldier fly larvae (BSFL) to fuel its formulas. The company’s Dental Chews, which were introduced in 2023 and showcased at Global Pet Expo 2024, are made from BSFL, which contains anti-microbial medium chain fatty acids that can help reduce oral inflammation while also offering sustainable benefits, according to the company.

Swedencare Scoopables with PlaqueOffSource: Sosland Publishing Co. / Jordan Tyler

For both dogs and cats, Swedencare’s Scoopables with PlaqueOff System technology takes a more biological approach to oral health in pets. Scoopables come in a format more reminiscent of a treat or meal topper and focus less on abrasion and more on altering chemical reactions in the mouth that cause periodontal disease. PlaqueOff is an active ingredient derived from natural kelp that works continuously in a pets’ body to prevent new plaque from forming, while also softening existing tartar.

As evidenced by Swedencare’s new Scoopables, dental health isn’t just for the dogs. Several brands have introduced cat-specific oral health interventions designed specifically for the mouths and palates of felines.

For example, Ark Naturals introduced its Kiss Me-ow portfolio of dental treats for cats in three varieties: Cleaning Crunchy Chews, Strengthening Crunchy Chews and Lickable Dental Treats. The Cleaning Crunchy Chews aim to help clean teeth and freshen breath with a crunchy texture and a toothpaste center, while the Strengthening Crunchy Chews are formulated with calcium to help strengthen teeth, as well as freshen breath with a toothpaste center. The Lickable Dental Treats are wet tube treats designed to support oral health with a toothpaste center and are also formulated with taurine and Omega fatty acids to promote overall wellness.

Groovies dental treats for catsSource: Sosland Publishing Co. / Nicole Kerwin

WHIMZEES, a popular dental treat brand by Wellness Pet Company, showcased its first-ever dental treats for cats at the show, having launched the new product earlier this year. Wellness WHIMZEES Natural Dental Treats for cats are designed to address four aspects of oral health: breath, plaque, tartar and gums. The treats consist of a crunchy, porous texture that supports mechanical abrasion as cats chew them, allowing their teeth to sink into each treat for cleaning.

Groovies, which started out with a line of uniquely designed dental chews for dogs, debuted a line of dental treats for cats in the New Product Showcase. The treats leverage a patented shape, combining angled grooves and ridges based off the oral structure of felines, and were developed using the brand’s DentalFit Technology, which ensures the chews fit each pet’s jaw perfectly, providing 360-degree cleaning action to remove tarter and plaque down to the gum line.

Head over to our New Product Slideshow from Global Pet Expo 2024 to browse these and other new products introduced at this year’s show. Global Pet Expo 2025 will be held at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., from March 26 to 28.

Continue reading our coverage from Global Pet Expo 2024, and keep up with the latest pet food trends on our Trends page.