Despite the stagnation in volume growth of pet care market, premiumization and humanization has been providing fuel for the growth of value sales over the last few years in Canada. As seen at the National Pet Industry Trade Show held in Mississauga, ON in Canada, the trend has only intensified in 2015-2016, with more manifestation in product offerings and greater influence from food and beverages for humans.
‘Mini-Me’, a déjà vu?
One of the latest new products promoted by Durango, CO-based Zuke's Treats at the trade show is its Tiny Naturals variants under its Mini Naturals range of treats with each morsel containing only 1.5 calories (3.5 calories for its Mini Naturals range). This represents an under-sizing trend in pet food that has been growing in food and beverages for humans over the last few years, as exemplified by Coke’s move in reducing the size of the beverage cans (e.g., newer sleek can of 310ml vs. 355ml) and Nestle’s new packaging for its Smarties brands in early 2015. The consideration behind all of these is the same: in light of the growing prevalence of obesity and health consciousness for both humans and pets, people are increasingly wary of the calorie intake for themselves, and this sentiment is also growing for pet food as pet owners increasingly view their pets as companions and family members. While Tiny Naturals is thought to target smaller breeds which enjoy growing popularity despite the overall stagnation in pet population growth, the brand purposely stress the point that it is for ALL dogs. Besides the calorie- or portion-control feature, the Tiny Naturals offering highlights ‘grain-free’ and ‘added vitamins and minerals’ packed in a resealable pouch format, overall facilitating pet owners’ effort in establishing a stronger bond with and expressing their love to their pets.
A time saver and a healthy coat
One of the constraints over the pet population growth is the increasing aging of the population and busier life style among Canadians. Wentzville, MO-based Tropiclean showcased its latest coconut-water based pet shampoo at the show aiming to address the issue. One of the key features of the new product is to make a quick clean-up possible by saving time on both lathering and rinsing based on simple ingredient list containing mild coconut cleanser and a stand-up pouch format. Included in the ingredient list are also many natural ingredients such as aloe barbadensis (aloe vera), wheat protein and organic herbal blend, which the brand claims to help add a ‘healthy and fresh coat’ for pets. The offerings are under its Aimable range and come in three scents, Aqua de Coco, Mango & Coconut, and Sweet Pea & Coconut, highlighting its natural images.
Local brands and products are thriving
While product offerings from Canada’ southern neighbour have significant presence at the show, Canadian brands and Made-in-Canada products are also getting much of the spotlight. Edmonton, AB-based Champion Petfood leads the pack and takes a significant show space, promoting some of the successful brands and offerings including Orijen which highlights the ‘biologically appropriate’ and ‘whole prey’ concepts, basically mimicking diet in pets’ natural habitat and hence bringing the rawness and naturalness to a new level. At the trade show, the brand highlighted its latest offerings in cats including Cats & Kitten, Six Fish, Regional Red, Tundra and Fit & Firm. In the premium dog food segment, by focusing on digestibility and greater segmentation based on life stages and active styles of dogs, Woodstock, ON-based Agribrands Purina Canada Inc (although part of US-based Cargill Inc) features Made-in-Canada offerings under Loyall brand with ingredients such as prebiotics, trace minerals, omega fatty acids, glucosamine in its product lines which include best sellers such as Athletes (for very active adult dogs) and Adult (for moderately active dogs). In stores, it is priced at lower end of the premium segment according to the company, fitting well in the overall expanding ‘mass-premium’ segment in pet food in Canada. Additionally, following the craze over ancient grains in packaged food for humans, White Rock, BC-based PetKind incorporated organic quinoa (from Canada and Peru) in its Tripe Dry range which is claimed to be 100% produced and sourced in Canada.
The trends highlighted above underscore the consumer preference towards value-added offerings that could help them better take care of and offer more fun experience for their pets which are increasingly viewed as family members and close companions. Consequently, categories such as treats and other pet products will remain dynamic and dog and cat food will likely grow healthily over the next few years in Canada.