With new trends popping up daily in the food and beverage market, it comes as no surprise that the pet food space is seeing its own fair share of trends, as well. Gone are the days of boring and simple pet food and treat choices. There are more selections than ever before and people—and pets—are eating them up. Here are some of the biggest trends to keep an eye out for as 2020 continues.

Upcycling Ingredients

As a country, we’re worse with food waste than we thought. Studies report that a third of all U.S. food is wasted. Companies looking to make an impact on food waste—and customers’ opinions—are increasingly exploring inventive ways to upcycle foods, especially for the pet market.

Upcycling uses existing materials that otherwise might be thrown away, in this case food, to create a valuable product. This process is ideal for reducing waste because of its ability to use food that would otherwise be thrown away. One brand, Shameless Pets, has created its entire pet treat business on incorporating upcycled ingredients like lobster shells, egg shells, and “ugly” fruit such as blueberries into its pet treats. These upcycled ingredients help make treats delicious but also healthy, making both the humans and furry family members happy.

Repurposing Byproducts

Similar to upcycling, pet brands are also exploring the use of byproducts in a very comparable way to help decrease waste and match the values of consumers. But, which byproducts are used has sparked some debate.  Consumers have voiced concern over the use of animal byproducts in pet foods, allowing a special niche market to form and grow.

Portland Pet Food Company, for example, uses spent grain, a byproduct of beer production, to make dog biscuits. Incorporating this type of byproduct not only decreases waste that would overwise end up in a landfill, but provides a delicious, healthy treat that your best friend will love.

Golden retriever eating dog food from bowlMeal Enhancements

There’s even a solution for picky eaters (or rather, picky owners)—meal enhancements. Meal enhancements include anything from mix-ins, toppers and broths. These products are usually mixed with a kibble or some other sort of pet food to help enhance the nutritional value of the food and ease digestion for pets.

Plain, dry kibble—when digested—does not always release the full nutritional value of the food and is better digested when soaked. This is where the meal enhancements come in. Broths help soak the kibble and make it easier and tastier for pets to enjoy, and toppers and mix-ins provide additional nutritional value and flavor. More and more mainstream pet food brands are investing in the meal enhancement market and are creating new and innovative flavor combinations, ranging from nutritional dense bone broths to chunks of seafood in a thick and creamy sauce. While they are considered an add-on sale, meal enhancements have created a profitable space for themselves in the market.

Single-Ingredient Treats

There has been a huge shift in the pet food market as consumers are looking for more options for chemical-free, ethically sourced, healthier options. Why should what consumers feed their pets be any different than what we want ourselves? After all, pets are like family members (and, let’s be honest—to many, they are their favorite family member).

Brands in the pet treat market mirrored this exact same thought process—which is why single-ingredient treats have been popping up everywhere. Single-ingredient treats offer a quick and easy solution that is clean and natural. Brands like Wild One are creating treats that have no chemicals or fillers. Their line of treats includes one with sweet potatoes, another with chicken, and finally another with fish—and that’s it. Pierless Pet Treats works directly with fisherman and fishing vessels to create sustainably-sourced pet treats that are made up of 100% fish, and no fillers. While these treats run a little higher on the pricing scale, they are considered a premium product and are worth the price to many consumers in order to have a piece of mind for their furry friends. Be on the lookout for major brands investing in single-ingredient treats in the future.

As consumers expect cleaner and more natural options for themselves, it comes as no surprise they’re seeking the same for their pets. What do we expect to see next for pets? Our eyes are on whatever consumers desire first for themselves, and our furry family members will follow suit.