The annual Global Pet Expo held in Orlando, Florida, promotes itself as the world’s largest annual pet products trade show. The show is a good barometer for tracking trends in the companion animal world and marketplace. The event is sponsored by the American Pet Products Association (APPA), which claims that the nation’s spending on pets reached an all-time high of $72.56 billion in 2018 and apparently shows no signs of slowing its meteoric pace.
After two days of walking the show floor covering 343,700 square feet of exhibit space, perusing 1,174 exhibitors, 3,604 booths and more than 3,000 new product launches—some trends start to become apparent. Here’s what is on the horizon for dogs and the people who care for them …
The largest and most robust sector in the pet world is food, and it attracted the most diversity and innovation. Alternative methods of food processing were widespread — new foods that are air-dried, raw frozen, gently cooked, baked and dehydrated indicate the wide range of preparation. There is a focus on pet food sourcing — domestic ingredients are king, but also emphasis on free-range or wild animals, non-GMO plants and sustainable practices. The increasing public awareness impacts everything from manufacturing transparency (ingredients labeling and disclosures) to eco-friendly packaging. Consumer choice is greater than ever but it pays for pet parents to educate themselves to be smart shoppers.
A host of products are tapping into advancements in technology and our love of gadgets — GPS tracking collars, health monitoring devices, automated feeding and pet door solutions, temperature-controlled beds, battery operated toys and grooming tools will soon integrate hi-tech into canine care. This may have something to do with the fact that “millennials continue to be the largest pet-owning demographic,” says Bob Vetere, president and CEO of APPA. Note to self: my dog’s old leather collar and tennis ball may soon be things of the past.
The wave of CBD pet products continues to grow at a phenomenal rate in the pet sector despite governmental regulatory restrictions. Much confusion still exists with regards to what is allowable for the pet market plus the constant legal machinations add to the lack of understanding for consumers. Despite these obstacles, there are a number of ethical, dedicated companies and researchers making progress to establish the market sector and recognize the promising benefits derived from CBD and related products.
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Look for more attention being paid to green and sustainable practices in the manufacturing of pet products. It is evident that companies are featuring eco-friendly practices and packaging as distinguishing factors in marketing their wares. The real effects for consumer choice are in the early stages, but watch this space for new and dramatic offerings as the technology, innovation and cost catch up with consumer demands.
The net result is that pet parents have more choice than ever, and manufacturers are paying attention to increased consumer awareness and the buying public’s real concerns — transparency, health and safety, natural and often organic, innovative yet sound. America’s dogs should thrive.