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Sizzling Stock: Dog Treats

Organic & Limited Ingredients Rule



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Dog treats continue to follow the trends seen in the food category, with quality nutrition, simple ingredients and safety shooting ahead, pet specialty retailers and manufacturers reported.

“The trends we see in treats are in line with what we see in food purchases in general,” said Lisa Gay, co-owner of H3 Pet Supply in Stratford, Conn. “Pet parents are looking for a healthy treat with safe and natural ingredients.”

As further proof that the treat market mirroring what’s happening in dog foods, Tom Wien, director of marketing for Cardinal Pet Care in Azusa, Calif., said he’s witnessed a steady shift toward organic offerings.

“The rapid growth of organic pet foods and treats is one of the biggest trends we’re seeing in our industry today,” he said. “Sales of organic pet foods/treats are expected to increase by 14.6 percent annually through 2019, according to market research firm Packaged Facts. Another report from Morningstar predicts that the global market for organic pet food will soar to $13.14 billion by 2021.”

Ann Hudson, vice president of marketing for Whitebridge Pet Brands’ Cloud Star and Tiki brands in St. Louis, also noted the incredible growth in the dog treat category.

“Treats are not a static market, and owners are always looking for new and better options to reward or encourage their dogs,” she said.

Wien credited the growth to two strong consumer trends.

“One is that, as people become more aware of the connection between diet and good health, they are buying more organic food products for themselves,” he said. “The second trend is that pets are being viewed increasingly as family members today. Put these two trends together, and you have humans who are into organic foods for themselves wanting to extend their healthy lifestyle choices to their ‘four-legged children.’”

Nichole Nonini, marketing director for Plato Pet Treats in Fresno, Calif., agreed.

“If you are conscious about what you are feeding your dog for their meals, you are going to carry that thought through your treats purchase,” Nonini said.

This consciousness has helped fuel the rise of a new category in treats, experts said: limited ingredient pet products, or LIPPs.

“As their name suggests, LIPPs contain very few ingredients, typically only foods that humans eat themselves,” Wien said. “There’s no long list of ingredients with unpronounceable names that pet parents have to sort through.

“As consumers become more oriented toward feeding their pets organic diets, they’re demanding organic options in all the different types of treats they buy,” he added. “For example, in addition to organic everyday treats, they want to be able to purchase organic varieties of treats that are used specifically as training rewards.”

Looking ahead, participants in the dog treat category said they expect organics to continue to grow as owners continue to focus on nutrition and safety.

“There are strong demographic indications that the market for organic pet foods will continue its sharp growth track on a mid- to long-term basis,” Wien said. “Currently, the groups with the fastest-growing percentage of pet ownership are millennials (65 percent) and gen X-ers (71 percent). These younger generation consumers are also the largest consumers of health foods, so this group should be a prime driver of organic pet food sales in the future.”

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