Ralf Majer-Abele
PET plus


Reversing the trend

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In the international pet food industry, processes that had their tentative beginnings in pre-coronavirus times are now being implemented at a remarkable pace. The discussion topic here is not digitalisation, but the changes currently emerging in the pet food assortment.
The subject of sustainability with regard to products and packaging materials has acquired an importance in the last few months that hardly anyone would have foreseen a year ago. We examine this new development in this issue of PET worldwide, taking cat food as an example. It is a segment that has experienced a substantial upturn during the coronavirus pandemic. One observation is that trends known from the dog food segment are being assimilated in this segment ever faster - and successfully. Gertjan Willems, managing director of the Dutch pet food manufacturer Prins Tiernahrung, has a plausible explanation for this: "Cat owners are more open to buying high-quality products and to learning more about cats." The entire pet supplies sector is currently benefiting from this.
The change in thinking in the pet food industry is by no means limited simply to eliminating preservatives, colourings and flavour enhancers from food. It is much more far-reaching. In many countries, the question is now even being asked of how animal proteins, which make a demonstrable contribution to global warming and have become scarce and expensive during the pandemic, can be replaced in the short to medium term by plant proteins. Insect-based proteins have also gained significant traction in the market in recent months, because their carbon footprint is much better than that of other animal sources of protein.
These trains of thought have been prompted primarily by a change in consumer behaviour. Many pet owners have become more health-conscious, not least as a consequence of the pandemic. They look more closely at the packaging of pet food products to determine the contents and demand greater transparency from the branded product industry. Under the influence of social media, so-called "green-washing" by industrial and retail companies is quickly sanctioned, forcing companies to come up with new solutions to meet the high expectations of consumers in the minimum of time.
The fluctuating global supply chains…
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