Thursday, October 22, 2009

How to leverage wellness and nutrition in the petfood aisle

From the rapid growth of the fresh and natural format, exemplified by Whole Foods, Trader Joe's and Wild Oats, to the mainstreaming of organic and natural products in conventional supermarkets, it's clear that natural has hit the big time. So it goes in the petfood aisle, as well. Consumers are increasingly seeking a healthy way of living, and are projecting these aspirations onto their pets, since their furry companions are certainly a big part of their world.
According to BusinessWire, natural petfood is a response to a convergence of trends: the pet owner's desire for a healthy, balanced life coupled with a tendency to humanize their pets. This trait is typical of pet care—trends in human products often translate into similar demands in the pet aisle. That goes for gourmet flavors, functional foods and natural and organic foods.
It's no secret that natural and organic products represent a large growth opportunity at present, but traditional food outlets are, in general, missing out on their fair share, according to BusinessWire. Food, drug and mass outlets (excluding Wal-Mart) account for three times the market share of natural foods retailers (excluding Trader Joe's), but only pull in 40% of natural products sales, according to a recent ACNielson report. This, along with other key factors, leads to the conclusion that natural petfood, treats and care are segments traditional food retailers should be focusing on.
As the wellness trend converges with pet pampering mania, category experts are expecting natural/organic petfood to grow at more than 3 times the rate of total petfood, according to Packaged Facts. It is also anticipated that it will be the large national brands that will drive that advance. That makes perfect sense because of the brand support major brands are able to underwrite. With natural petfood going mainstream, consumers shouldn't have to leave their favorite store to find the products they desire for their pet's health and longevity.

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