Pet Food Market: Growing Spotlight on Sustainability

Pet Food Market_Inkwood Research

With the growing concern of resource overuse globally, consumers are becoming increasingly aware of their purchases’ social and environmental impact. As a result, sustainability is gaining prominence among most consumer goods markets, with the pet food market being no exception. According to Inkwood Research, the global pet food market, valued at $114240.39 million in 2022, is expected to register a CAGR of 7.72% during the forecast period, 2023-2032.

Our blog briefly examines the pet food market sustainability through food production, environmental control, and food packaging.

  • Sustainability through Food Production

The environmental footprint of pet ownership and the provision of necessary food and supplies for pets in terms of emissions, waste, and natural resource use has increased. With regard to pet food production, sustainability is defined as the ability to produce pet food in adequate amounts with sufficient essential nutrients for optimum health in the present and future while accounting for the smallest environmental footprint. This has facilitated the launch of different plant-based products. Plant-based claims are among the many ways brands appeal to sustainability-conscious consumers. Moreover, formulators particularly focus on animals’ nutrients and unique nutritional needs at every life stage. Interestingly, blends are gaining popularity as well.

It is quite common for pet health and pet food ingredients, plant-based or not, to lack certain essential nutrients,” says Maygane Ronsmans, product manager for animal nutrition, Beneo.

Ronsmans further explains, “A great example is the combination of rice protein, which contains limited lysine, with faba protein concentrate.”

Faba is a legume protein with higher lysine content. The blend fulfills the basic requirement for this amino acid. Also, brands often add vitamin or mineral premixes to their formulations alongside ingredients like synthetic amino acids to complement the formula.

At the same time, there is a budding trend of cell-based solutions. For instance, cell-cultured meat is on a fast growth trajectory, with consumers more inclined to these alternatives. As per the founders of Because, Animals and Bond Pet Foods, although pet food might seem an odd entry point for cultured meat and alternative proteins, it is an ideal starting place for cellular agriculture. This is because there are fewer barriers to acceptance in the pet food world.

Because, Animals launched the world’s first cultured meat product for pets in February 2022. The Harmless Hunt Mouse Cookies, designed for cats, contains directly grown meat from the cells of the cats’ native protein source – the mouse. The startup uses cellular agriculture to cultivate real mice meat from cells, eliminating the need for slaughter.

Our analysis of the global pet food market by food type provides data insights on food type by content and animal.

  • Sustainability through Environmental Control

According to American Pet Products Association (APPA), two-thirds of US households own at least 1 pet. Pet ownership has been associated with psychological benefits like reduced risks of depression, more social engagement and cohesion, and increased self-esteem in children. Companion animals enrich their owners’ lives in several ways, such as minimizing the risks of certain heart diseases, increasing physical movements, and lowering blood pressure. However, pet ownership takes a toll on the environment.

For instance, pets are served generous portions of treats and foods to facilitate a stimulating, comfortable, and nourishing environment. This is primarily driven by the pet humanization trend. In addition, pets participate in several social and vocational activities and receive regular veterinary care. According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), in 2019, the cumulative pet industry expenditures in the United States reached $95.7 billion. Pet foods and treats constituted the largest sales segment, followed by veterinary care and product sales. Such aspects place a demand, indirectly or directly, on the consumption of energy and natural resources alongside waste generation.

  • Sustainability through Food Packaging

Food packaging serves numerous vital functions, including protecting food from nutritional degradation and spoilage, serving as an information source for pet owners and feed regulators, and enhancing distribution and storage efficiencies. Conventionally, pet food containers and bags are constructed from plastic layers, metals, and paperboard & paper. Most packages are designed for single use and are non-recyclable, leaving few options besides disposal.

At the same time, packaging developers face sustainability challenges. For sustainable packaging to be effective, it must minimize food waste, prevent food contamination, and preserve food quality. Additionally, it must address the issue of plastic waste accumulation in the environment. Moreover, the materials should be non-toxic and cost-effective for feasibility.

Accordingly, the next generation of sustainable pet food packaging focuses on the use of renewable materials to develop biodegradable polymeric films. For instance, the Agricultural Research Service is exploring the use of dairy-based films as an alternative to petroleum-based packaging. Besides, biopolymers from chitosan, cellulose, cornstarch, carrot processing waste, and other agricultural products exhibit potential for biodegradable film construction in an effort to minimize plastic waste accumulation. At the same time, the cost and performance of lower-barrier and eco-friendly packaging in comparison to synthetic alternatives might hinder their widespread adoption.

Sustainability in Pet Food Market calls for Collective efforts

Sustainability in the pet food industry can be summed up into practices that can continue unhampered for future generations. The key areas for improvement in pet food sustainability include optimizing resource and waste management, avoiding nutritional and feeding excesses, and sustainable ingredient selection. Besides, pet owners’ increasing awareness and interest in sustainability will help pet food companies respond accordingly. Nevertheless, the progress of sustainability in the global pet food market relies on the collective efforts of manufacturers, suppliers, consumer purchase choices, and ingredients availability.

By Akhil Nair


Which distribution channel shows promising growth in the global pet food market?

Veterinary shows promising growth in the global pet food market.

Who are the prominent players in the global pet food market?

Hill's Pet Nutrition Inc, Inaba Foods Co Ltd, Mars Petcare Ltd, and Nestle Purina Petcare Ltd are among the prominent players in the global pet food market.