Functionality or Safety: Two Asian pet markets?

Interesting blog post by Diana Petfood on pet food trends around the world – highlighting disparity in product needs between various Asian countries.

Innovation helps owners to manage their pets’ health

The continuing trend in Asia towards pet humanisation, where pets are adored and regarded as companions, friends and members of the family, is driving interest in foods that can help to prevent lifestyle illnesses and diseases.
Pet owners are increasingly looking for pet foods and products that promise to help their pets stay happy and healthy, including through aiding digestion, ensuring a healthy skin and coat, along with preventing teeth and gum issues. The fact that 41% of pet owners in Thailand look for pet food with added benefits illustrate this trend.

On the other hand, the functional pet food innovation landscape recorded a fall in 2020, highlighting the room for innovation. Indeed according to Mintel GNPD, the share of pet food and pet product launches in Asia featuring functional and plus (eg added vitamin) claims has broadly increased in recent years, but many functional claims (eg digestion, joints/bones) saw reduced activity in the year to January 2021.

Of the major markets in Asia, Japan and Thailand have recorded the highest share of functional claims in pet food, with China and South Korea recording the lowest.

In Japan, Unicharm recently launched AllWell cat food products. The recipes feature a patented formula that claims to be the world’s first ‘dietary fibre blending technology’ to reduce the regurgitation of meals. The brand claims that by reducing regurgitation, it is ensuring that cats are able to absorb all of the nutrients present in the cat food, thus avoiding malnutrition.

The Unicharm AllWell range is available in variants that are appropriate to a variety of ages, lifestyles and functional needs. The prevention of regurgitation and consequent loss of vital nutrients is something that could appeal strongly to cat owners who are concerned about the physical wellness and resilience of their cats.

Coté’ Seoul Chi-ka Gum Collagen Stick for Skin & Coat contains flaxseed and collagen to help improve skin and hair, along with vitamins, calcium and iron (South Korea).

Yakult Eats On Pets Petkult Liv Probiotics for Dogs & Cats is formulated with 10 types of live probiotics including Yakult and patented HyPet probiotics (South Korea).

Concerns about the safety of pet food and products inspire innovation

Just as the quality and safety of human food is of a heightened concern to Asian consumers as a result of COVID-19, pet owners have become more anxious about the safety of pet food.
For example, in China 94% of pet owners consider food safety a top priority when purchasing pet food.
They are prioritising pet food and products that reassure them that the product has been manufactured in a clean and safe environment, with quality ingredients.

Pet brands in the region are responding to these kinds of concerns by adopting ‘clean-eating’ trends from human food innovation, such as reducing additives and preservatives; formulating with natural, organic, and GMO-free ingredients; and highlighting toxin-free formulations.

Among all of the pet food and pet product launches in Asia to feature a natural claim, the no additives/preservatives claim is most prolific, especially in the Chinese and Japanese markets.

India has recorded a significant number of all-natural launches, while organic claims have a relatively sizeable presence in South Korea and Thailand – although organic claims represent a relatively small share of overall launch activity.

Woofur Gourmet Chicken Finest Jerky Treats for Dogs is 100% natural and made from hand-picked, human-grade, ethical and safe ingredients that are free of any toxic or unhealthy elements (India).

Juspet Kuang Ye Dried Beef for Dog contains 98% beef and beef organs including heart, lung and liver (China).


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