5 key trends shaping pet food industry growth

Find out what's influencing future development in pet food, treats and snacks

Pet Food Processing Equipment And Systems

If you're creating pet food, treats or snacks, our experts have pinpointed five key trends that will help you take full advantage of the growth predicted for the pet food industry.

There seems to be no end to the expansion of the pet food industry. Even with the Covid-19 pandemic causing economic difficulties, pet ownership has continued to grow. The humanization of pets took a huge step forward during the pandemic, and focus on pet health and wellbeing is gaining significance. Our experts have identified five key trends that they believe will provide opportunities for pet food processors in the future.


Marel pet food processing equipment creates quality pet treats, snacks and chews

1. Pet treats and chews lead the way

The market for pet treats and chews has shown steady growth over the years and, more recently, has become a dominant segment within the general pet food market. In the US, sales are expected to reach $7.4 billion by 2023. The Asia Pacific region saw pet treat sales increase 23 percent from 2013 to 2018, with no sign of the growth slowing since then. With the global trend for pet humanization, owners want to reward and bond with their four-legged friends more than ever before and will likely continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

Pet food processors need to take action now to ensure they are best placed to make the most of the boom in pet treat sales. Increasing levels of automation to streamline processing can help increase volumes to meet the higher demand. Whether you are just starting out in pet food processing, wanting to grow your current production volumes, or looking to diversify and create new types of pet treats, we can help transform your processing with our innovative equipment and extensive processing knowledge.


Marel pet food processing equipment for quality freeze dried dog food and cat food

2. Freeze-dried food turns up the heat

Another fast-growing area is freeze-dried food. PetFoodIndustry.com reports that sales for non-traditional pet food formats like freeze-dried are growing faster than traditional pet food. Freeze-dried caters to pet owners looking for a more natural, high-end option for their furry companions. At the same time, it offers a highly shelf-stable product with a longer life, which still retains quality and nutrients.

Freeze-dried food is heavily dependent on moisture extraction. Having processing equipment that minimizes water use is critical to achieving a high-quality, profitable product. Marel forming machines play a vital role in controlling moisture during pet food production. They use low-pressure air release instead of water to optimize protein quality and maximize yield.


Marel processing equipment handles higher quality protein for premium pet food production

3. Premiumization takes center stage

As the demand for pet food increases, so does the amount owners are prepared to spend on their faithful friends. According to Euromonitor, between 2012 and 2019, trading-up helped increase the average unit price across dog and cat foods by nearly 24%. Consumers are increasingly aware of their pets' health and wellbeing and are willing to pay a premium price for higher quality food. Human-grade protein, as well as organic and plant-based ingredients commonly considered healthy human foods, are also increasingly entering the pet food space. Pet owners are not happy with basic food products anymore but are looking for more natural foods with specific health benefits (source: ReportLinker). 

At Marel, we leverage our in-depth knowledge of all different types of protein to offer pet food processors state-of-the-art technology that can create the highest quality pet food products.

Better proteins require different handling. It’s essential for pet food processors to have the right equipment in order to optimize the texture and taste of their raw material.

Ben Huisinga, Product Manager, Marel low-pressure forming expert

Ben Huisinga
Business Development Director, Marel


Marel equipment for pet food, pet treats, dog food and cat food

4. More variety, more functionality

Not only do pet owners want to feed their animals the best quality, there is also an increasing requirement to give pets a more varied diet with different types of foods - not just the same product day in, day out. Owners are looking for variations in flavors, assorted shapes and sizes and foods with varying functions such as improving stamina, endurance and health. This includes foods that contain high meat proteins, wholesome nutrients and added vitamins.

To meet this demand for variety and respond to changing customer requirements, it is essential to have optimal processing flexibility. Marel's standalone equipment and tailored systems can help pet food processors adapt processing to stay relevant and responsive to changing customer demand in the most cost-effective way possible.


Innova Traceability Software

5. New channels bring new opportunities

Online pet food sales have recently reached record heights, not only due to the Covid-19 pandemic but perhaps also as a result of the growth in millennial pet owners, for whom online shopping is second nature. E-commerce not only gives pet owners a more convenient way to shop but also a highly personalized experience, with foods and treats tailored to their pet's breed, age and health requirements.

This shift to online shopping has also influenced the owners' access to information about pet food products. Pet owners are increasingly concerned with food safety and the source of ingredients. They want reassurance of quality and safety standards. Processors who can provide this information will undoubtedly gain the competitive edge. Marel's Innova Food Processing Software provides full traceability throughout the production process. It monitors production in real-time to identify opportunities for improvement while ensuring that production conforms to the highest quality and food safety standards.

Pet food processors who can provide full traceability for their products will undoubtedly gain the competitive edge.

Laura Boon

Laura Boon
Innova Software Product Manger, Marel

Transforming pet food processing

A trusted partner is essential to adapt and take advantage of the opportunities arising from the trends our experts have identified. By developing an in-depth understanding of your end-product requirements, we can create a complete solution to meet all your pet food processing needs and help you gain a competitive edge.



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