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Innovations in Pet Care: Four Growth Areas

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Ekaterina Tretyakova Bio

After the boom caused by COVID-19 lockdowns, during which pet owners spent most of their time with their pets and built close connections, the pet care industry has experienced a slowdown. Besides spending greater time apart from their pets after returning to the office, consumers are also being challenged by increasing prices of goods and services, and declining disposable incomes.

Nevertheless, due to the increasing pet humanisation trend, consumers would rather economise on their own groceries than on their pets.

69% of pet owners globally consider their pets to be beloved members of their families

Source: Euromonitor International Voice of the Consumer: Lifestyles Survey 2023

As a result, pet care continues to record positive growth, albeit at a slower pace than in 2020-2021.

Human-like innovations are making inroads

Due to pet humanisation, owners are increasingly searching for human-grade ingredients, pet snacks, and human-like menus and services. Brands are launching healthy, sustainable, and fun treats similar to those produced for human consumption. In 2023, an Italian brand, Hygge Dog, launched an insect-based dog treat with human-grade ingredients, including elderflower, hawthorn, strawberry, raspberry, and banana. Embracing human-like pet food and products, brands can enhance their value proposition and position their products as premium offerings.

The rising popularity of chilled versus frozen formats resonates with the concept of freshly made, mirroring human food preferences. Benefiting from new processing technologies, freshly cooked and new wet pet food increasingly offer human-like options, such as stew, broth, soup, purée, and yoghurt, among others. Freshly cooked pet food with minimal processing, such as pasta for pets by Brazilian producer Pet Food Saudavel, retains essential minerals and vitamins while supporting digestive health.

Health benefits in pet food are essential

During the pandemic, health became a major focus for most consumers. In terms of pet care, it reinforced a shift from medical treatment to preventive healthcare. Pet owners now demand personalised healthy pet food that contains natural and functional ingredients. They are increasingly searching for products, including dietary supplements, specific to age, breed, and health conditions. As per Euromonitor International’s Products Claims and Positioning data 2022, the leading claims in pet food were high protein, natural, and good sources of vitamins, of which shares in products available online are increasing each year.

Innovations in pet care chart1.svg

Increasing personalisation enables consumers to choose pet products specific to the age, breed, lifestyle of the pet, and its health conditions such as immune system, oral care, hygiene, gut, and mental health. Capitalising on targeted health claims that address specific wellbeing issues, pet supplements is experiencing rapid growth.

Retail sales of pet care benefit from omnichannel approach of players

E-commerce boomed during the pandemic, creating new long-term purchasing habits among consumers. Pet owners have become used to fast delivery, variety of options, easy comparisons, personalised offers, and other advantages offered by the subscription model.

Since 2019, e-commerce’s share of pet care sales has increased from 18% to 29%

Source: Euromonitor International

Emerging pet care markets, such as Asia Pacific, owe their rapid development, to a large extent, to the widespread popularity of e-commerce platforms and O2O distribution across the region.

Nevertheless, with the end of lockdowns, many consumers have returned to physical stores, enjoying instant purchasing and in-store consultations. Therefore, pet owners are willing to benefit from both online and offline channels, easily switching between them. To gain a wider audience, retailers must now adopt an omnichannel strategy, being present in different channels and providing a seamless experience for consumers. Expanding to the LATAM markets, in 2023 Petco partnered with Teamwork Commerce to build out a seamless cloud-based omnichannel platform. It combines a point-of-sale (POS) system, loyalty programmes, inventory control, CRM system, and e-commerce site.Innovations in pet care chart2.svg                                                         

Sustainability trend is driving innovation in alternative proteins and packaging

In mature markets, pet owners are increasingly searching for sustainable benefits in pet products, such as vegetarian and insect-based pet food or recyclable packaging. The trend is gradually spreading to emerging markets. In 2022, Brit introduced high-protein insect-based food for cats with food allergies to the Polish market; Vitakraft launched premium plant-based dog treats on the Czech market; and a South African subscription platform, Happy Hounds, added to its menu insect-based meal options.

53% of pet owners state that they try to reduce plastic usage, while 42% prefer sustainable packaging

Source: Euromonitor International Voice of the Consumer: Lifestyles Survey 2023

Responding to increasing demand, Mars launched the SWAP Recycling app, which allows consumers to exchange used packaging for rewards and discounts, while Nestlé introduced various options in fully recyclable mono-material polypropylene pouches.


Focusing on specific benefits, such as human-grade products, health, convenience, and sustainability, players are targeting consumers who are willing to pay more for products and services in line with their values. Humanisation of pets, value of time, and environmental concerns are the main forces driving innovation and development of new retail models. This fosters premiumisation within pet care, enabling it to remain resilient, even during economically challenging times for consumers.

Learn more about the main trends in the pet care industry in our report World Market for Pet Care.


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