Will ‘Human-Grade’ Pet Food Continue to Trend in 2017?
As pet food continues to get better, the days of recalls due to the risks associated with unknown or contaminated ingredients get further and further behind us. Quality in the pet industry has slowly made a shift towards human-grade and that, along with many other trends commonly associated with human food, are projected to be the next big thing in 2017.
The trend of food transparency has been growing for over a decade. Shoppers’ demands for clean labeling and natural foods have helped increase the organic market to incredible numbers, tipping well into the billions – and the growth has no end in sight. It’s only fitting that these same shoppers, many of whom are pet owners, would want the same for their four-legged family members. This crossover in trends from health and wellness, to food and beverages, to now pet (specifically pet food) has brought awareness to many craft brands as more companies fight for the attention of discerning pet consumers in competition with the generic big brands of yesteryear.
We must also consider that pet food itself hasn’t had a very long life in the grand scheme of things. For the longest time, pets were simply fed scraps from the tables of their owners. Packaged pet food started out as a luxury item for the upper class in the early 1900s. By the 1940s, the commercialization of pet food began picking up momentum with canned and dried pet food now being sold in grocery stores. Since then clean ingredients and label transparency have come a long way for both consumers and their pets.
Feed-grade versus human-grade
As craft brands began to emerge, they separated themselves with locally sourced, premium ingredients, with many of them choosing to pay it forward by donating proceeds to animal welfare causes. Options for craft pet food spans from organic, to grain free, to vegetarian, even human-grade.
What is human grade pet food exactly? According to Honest Kitchen, there are two types of pet food: feed-grade and human-grade. “Old-fashioned pet food like kibble and canned food is ‘feed grade’, which means it might include by-products, chemicals, fillers and other ingredients that have been condemned as unfit for human consumption (like dying, diseased, disabled or deceased animals) – Human-Grade refers to a product that is legally suitable and approved for consumption by a person.” Human-grade pet food does carry a bigger price tag, but as more craft brands cater to this trend, this balances out the market, making it more competitive for the brands and more affordable for the consumers.
A look towards the future
The demand for human-grade food technically competes with people’s demand for the same quality in meats and products. However, the silver lining is that the same factory and farm guidelines for human food will also be applied to their pets. Pet food sales in the US pet specialty channel are still growing 20 percent a year, reaching $3 billion to date in 2016. With this fast industry growth and the options for human-grade pet food becoming more readily available, it’s just a matter of time before consumers are literally sharing meals with their pets.
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