5 most-search pet food characteristics on Internet

Marketing claims for pet foods in this group relate to pet health and sustainability.



Currently, research found that there are 5 characteristics in pet food that have seen increased search volume on the internet in 2023. Recent data from NielsenIQ, presented at the 2023 SuperZoo conference by Andrea Binder and Sam Smith, reveals that many pet food marketing claims are keen on promoting attributes that cater to both pet well-being and environmental sustainability.

According to NielsenIQ analysts, premium pet food diets and formulations as a focus on better purposes or food as medicine is a key driver of growth, even in the context of inflation affecting overall consumer spending.

The following pet food attribute keywords saw increased consumer searches related to pet food:

– Vegan/vegetarian: Increased 23.4%

– Sustainable: Increased 51.6% 

– Plant-based: Increased 70.2%

– Holistic: Increased 7.2%

– Human-grade quality: Increased 22.5%

Pet food labeling: Legal guidance on human-grade substantiation claims

Labelling pet foods as human-grade or produced in federally inspected facilities can be appealing to pet owners, as it conveys a sense of safety and quality akin to human food. However, it’s crucial to understand that specific regulations govern these claims, and failing to meet the standards can lead to complications.

Mrs. Veronika Medina, a spokesperson for the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), said in an article of Petfood Industry magazine that “FSIS would be concerned about pet food bearing labeling that purports the product as edible for human consumption. Pet food, by definition, is considered inedible [9 CFR 325.11 (d) (1)], therefore, all pet food produced in a USDA facility is considered inedible for humans, and FSIS certifying pet food does not indicate that it meets the same standards as human food”.

Medina noted facilities regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) can produce two types of pet food: certified pet food and non-certified pet food, and this is reflected in labeling.

“Certified pet food is inspected and is marked with the USDA tombstone legend, which states that it was packaged under the continuous inspection of USDA”, she said.

However, she also noted that this certification mark differs from the “Inspected and Passed” mark used on FSIS-inspected meat, poultry and egg products for human consumption.

The other type of pet food produced at USDA-regulated facilities is non-certified pet food. This non-certified pet food does not receive the USDA certification mark but must still comply with USDA labeling regulations. However, it must still comply with USDA labeling regulations.

Mr. David Dzanis, CEO of industry consultancy Regulatory Discretion Inc., emphasized that when a pet food is labeled as being produced in a USDA-certified facility, consumers may infer that FSIS inspectors, who oversee human food, have thoroughly examined the pet food..

However, he emphasized that such claims are generally considered misleading and unlawful by regulatory agencies. He stated that USDA-FSIS does not inspect or certify animal products. The only exception is the voluntary inspection program under 9 CFR 355, but this program is seldom used by pet food companies and, in any case, doesn’t elevate pet food to the level of being suitable for human consumption.

Source: Pet food Industry

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