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Consumer demand for natural ingredients and clean food labels is translating to the pet market. Pet food sales are on the rise as owners buy refrigerated meals made without preservatives and loaded with whole foods like quinoa, broccoli, avocado and other superfoods that are suitable for humans.
So dog food no longer means canned meat by-products with unappetizing ingredients.
Nestle-owned Purina premium pet food is boosting revenue for the company's packaged-goods category, and General Mills, which purchased high-end pet food brand Blue Buffalo in 2018, said in December its pet food sales helped it balance sluggish snack and yogurt sales last quarter, the Wall Street Journal reported.
And Nestle bought a majority stake in Tails.com, a U.K.-based subscription dog food service that tailors custom meals to a pet’s dietary needs. The website asks owners about their pet’s favorite foods with prompts like: “Do they prefer chicken or fish? Grain or no grain?” And an algorithm will create a custom recipe blend of fiber, protein, and fats.
The pet food market in the U.S. was worth approximately $24.6 billion in 2016 and is slated to increase by more than five billion to around $30 billion by 2022, according to market research firm Statista.com. Refrigerated pet food sales, meanwhile, make up a small part of overall industry sales at retail stores at $323 million last year, according to research firm IRI as reported by the New York Post.
To be sure, pet owners aged 18 to 34 are modeling their pet food purchases off of their food preferences by opting for organic and natural ingredients. About 34 percent of millennials opt for all-natural pet food and 21 percent prefer organic, according to market research firm Mintel as reported by marketing agency Impact Group. What’s more, up to 44 percent of pet food and pet products in North America contained no additives, the report said.
Take Jinx Inc., a dog food startup founded by alums of Casper, the mattress brand, bringing a direct-to-consumer approach to healthy dog food free of artificial ingredients and fillers with organic ingredients like fruits, veggies, and chicken. The company raised a reported $5.6 million in funding by investors like Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and Will Smith, TechCrunch reported.
Pet Plate, a New York-based delivery service that advertises itself as “made with real ingredients in a human-grade kitchen,” boasts “no rendered meats or by-products” for its varieties like “Lip Lickin’ Lamb,” and “Barkin Beef.” The company raised $6 million, the New York Post reported, and it costs $10 a pound, roughly, for food.
A number of restaurants and food chains have also increased their pet food offerings. Vegan chain By Chloe boats bone-shaped dog treats made without sugar and Pupcakes (Munchkins-shaped cakes) made with apple cider vinegar and unsweetened apple sauce. And Shake Shack boasts a “Woof” menu for dogs like its Bag o’ Bones which features a bag of five ShackBurger dog biscuits.