Consumers increasingly seek healthy attributes in pet food

With the overall growth of pet ownership during the pandemic, as well as increased health and wellness awareness, an increasing number of pet owners, both new and old, are applying human wellness standards when shopping for their pets, according to a recent report from NielsenIQ.

The report notes that “pet owners read labels closely and look for products that match their pets’ specific nutritional needs and values,” adding that this more mindful approach to pet care presents a huge opportunity for the pet industry to personalize their offerings and win with pet parents. Both new and existing.

According to the APPA National Pet Owner Survey 2021-2022, 70% of households currently own pets. An increasing portion of this population treat their pets like members of the human family, choosing food and treats based on their pets’ dietary restrictions or values ​​and diets, like vegetarians.

NielsenIQ refers to the health-focused trends or characteristics that consumers have in mind when shopping for pet food by examining online searches via major online retailers, such as Amazon.


On alone, the months between July 2020 and July 2021 resulted in millions of searches for pet food products that cater to diet-specific keywords like raw, vegan, and protein, and those with functional ingredients like pumpkin.

In the second quarter of 2021, searches for pet food properties including organic, low-calorie, diabetic support, and seafood-based pet foods experienced triple-digit growth compared to the previous quarter.

While consumers have a clear idea of ​​what they want (or don’t want) in their pet’s food, actually buying it is another story. For example, less than 1% of the products that possess the growth traits mentioned above actually claim those characteristics on their packaging.

Although not all required pet food attributes count to the same degree, there are significant gaps. For example, only 28% of pet products make a claim to be “free of artificial flavors,” but 94% of the products in this niche actually qualify for that claim. With more robust product attribute data that can drive claims on the packaging, eligible products can avoid being overtaken in online searches and overlooked in store, and millions of dollars missed in the $5.5 billion “artificial flavors-free” space.

According to a NielsenIQ report, “Manufacturers and retailers have a golden opportunity to translate consumers’ increasingly specific health and wellness standards for their pets into more personalized offerings, simply by claiming the characteristics that shoppers are already looking for.”

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