A version of this article originally appeared in Pet Product News.
One of the greatest challenges for any pet retailer is staying ahead of the competition. To give your business that competitive edge, it’s critical to know what products, practices and brand messages are resonating among the pet community.
How can we learn what trends are on the horizon for 2023? As the largest pet product marketplace in North America, the SuperZoo show floor gives us clear insights into what we can expect will be popular with manufacturers and consumers in the coming year.
“Throughout the pandemic, and even before, people were spending more time with their pets and seeking products to help them thrive,” said Vic Mason, president of World Pet Association. “Entrepreneurs eagerly answered that need with new products and new product categories. Looking at the SuperZoo show floor, it’s clear that companies are listening to consumers and assessing needs to enhance the lives of pets.”
Below are five of the top trends we saw from exhibitors at SuperZoo 2022.
1. Pet Wellness
Pet supplements are booming and show no sign of slowing down. According to NielsenIQ, sales of pet supplements have increased 50% in the past three years, with the largest jumps coming from probiotics for gut health and supplements for behavioral improvements. In addition to supplements, many food and treat brands are highlighting ingredients with known nutritional benefits, such as turmeric, pumpkin and collagen.
This was one of the most prevalent trends across the show floor at SuperZoo 2022, appearing across all pet categories — even Farm and Feed. One such wellness product seen at SuperZoo 2022 was FlockLeader Recover, a water supplement from Perdue Agribusiness that uses probiotics and electrolytes to boost immunity and reduce stress for backyard chickens.
2. Sustainable Practices
In recent years, efforts around sustainability in the pet industry have rapidly increased in tandem with increasing consumer concerns around pollution, waste and the environment. At SuperZoo 2022, we saw this trend reflected in brand messaging and greener products.
DooGood pet waste bags from The Marvelous Company are one such product aimed toward creating a more sustainable planet. Made from a patented formula of maize flour, vegetable oil and natural minerals, the bags are designed to biodegrade safely and completely in non-compost environments.
3. Alternative Proteins
Pursuing alternative protein sources, such as insects, plant-based proteins and lab-cultured meat, is another common way that today’s brands are tackling issues around sustainability and reducing their environmental footprint. These products are also often promoted as beneficial for pets with protein allergies — which relates to another trend around limited-ingredient diets, as owners are becoming more aware of their animals’ dietary allergens and sensitivities.
Fly larvae and carp livers are among the unusual ingredients you’ll find in Scout & Zoe’s dog treats and toppers, a product line inspired by a beloved dog with severe protein allergies. According to founder Cindy Dunston Quirk, “These treats are so safe that I eat them myself. Except the carp eyeballs ...”
Because, Animals is another brand that stood out on the SuperZoo 2022 show floor with their lab-cultured pet treats, made from the cell samples of rabbits and mice in a sterile lab. Their company’s mission is centered around reducing the reliance on factory farming — for the benefit of animals as well as the environment.
4. Freeze-Dried Foods
Raw, air-dried and freeze-dried foods are another increasingly popular alternative to standard pet food. NielsenIQ reports that the search terms “dehydrated” and “freeze dried” dog food products increased 30% and 28%, respectively, from August 2021 to July 2022.
Boss Nation Brands is one of the companies championing this trend, featuring their Freeze Dried Raw Diet at SuperZoo 2022, which “provides pets the foundation for a diet that resembles one akin to their diet in the wild.” Their products are also infused with probiotics and do not contain corn, soy, wheat, artificial ingredients or preservatives.
5. Enrichment Toys
Pet toy manufacturers are thinking outside the ball. Exhibitors at SuperZoo 2022 featured several interactive puzzle toys, treat dispensers and unique chew toys designed to stimulate and challenge our pets.
The Catit line of Senses 2.0 toys were a first-place SuperZoo New Product Showcase Award winner in the cat category. These colorful, mix-and-match toys include a motion-activated feather mushroom, a relaxation station with massagers and brushes, a “digger” slow feeder, an adjustable circuit ball toy and more — all of which can be connected to create the Senses Playground.
LickiMats are another slow feeder that proved popular at SuperZoo 2022. These grooved mats were developed to reduce separation anxiety in dogs and cats, as excessive licking can lead to irritation and painful blisters. By spreading treats or serving food on a LickiMat, pets receive long-lasting entertainment and the soothing benefits of repetitive licking. The LickiMat Keeper, a 2-in-1 dog food bowl and secure holder for LickiMats, debuted at SuperZoo 2022.
Nobody knows your business or your customers better than you. But with insights from SuperZoo, you can stay in step with industry trends that keep shoppers satisfied and your product mix evolving with the needs of the marketplace.
Registration is opening soon for SuperZoo 2023! Visit www.superzoo.org for more information.