Human demand for sustainability is reshaping the pet health market


Sustainability has long been a consumer-led initiative, and the pet health market isn’t any exception. Consumers are increasingly demonstrating high awareness of the social impact of the products they buy and are choosing more eco-friendly and ethically sourced products. As demographics shift and Millennials displace Baby Boomers because the nation’s largest consumer group, younger consumers’ values of sustainability and socially conscious capitalism are driving innovation in companion animal products.

Data from Kantar show that in the course of the first 12 months of the COVID-19 pandemic, 59% of all global consumers were taking a minimum of some type of motion to cut back their ecological footprint.1 Meanwhile, one OpenText survey of 25,000 consumers in 12 countries found that over 80% of consumers said it’s important to purchase ethically produced products—and almost 20% of respondents only got here to carry that belief in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.2

As consumers vote with their dollars and prioritize socially conscious, sustainable products, pet health brands will likely be forced to decide on whether to develop into sustainability leaders, followers, or laggards. Listed below are a number of the ways pet health ingredient suppliers are giving brands a latest range of sustainable ingredient tools.

Complete Nutrition from Non-Meat Products

The will for sustainable pet food has given rise to a wide range of plant-based products. Plant-based claims are considered one of the ways brands are appealing to sustainability-conscious shoppers, says Maygane Ronsmans, product manager for animal nutrition, Beneo (Parsippany, NJ). Ronsmans cites the outcomes of a Beneo survey of dog and cat owners across the globe: “Pet food trends proceed to mirror those in human nutrition, and sustainability and plant-based origin are of accelerating importance. Greater than half of pet owners are actually listening to sustainability and the carbon footprint of their pets’ food, and this trend is much more pronounced in animal nutrition [supplements].”

As plant-based pet foods and pet health ingredients gain popularity, formulators are paying special attention to the nutrients involved in formulations and the unique dietary needs of animals at every life stage. Ronsmans says it is kind of common for pet health and pet food ingredients, plant-based or not, to lack certain essential nutrients. That’s why blends have gotten so popular.

“A fantastic example is the mix of rice protein, which incorporates limited lysine, with faba protein concentrate,” Ronsmans explains. “Faba is a legume protein with higher lysine content, so [together] they fulfill the minimum requirement for this amino acid. Brands also often add vitamin or mineral premixes to their formulations, together with other ingredients like synthetic amino acids, to enrich the formula.”

While plant-based protein sources are a method suppliers are moving away from meat, there may be also a growing trend of cell-based solutions. Novel protein solutions like plant-based meat alternatives and cell-cultured meat are on a quick growth trajectory, says Patrick Luchsinger, marketing manager of nutrition and pet food for Ingredion (Westchester, IL). With consumers increasingly open to those alternatives for his or her pets, Luchsinger says suppliers are continuing to innovate by improving the taste profile and sensory experience of plant-based and cell-based meat alternatives.

“At Ingredion, we’ve seen an increased interest not only in our pea and lentil proteins but additionally in our collaboration with The Every Company. Formerly Clara Foods, The Every Company provides nature-identical proteins via fermentation technology,” he says.

The Every Company (San Francisco) launched the world’s first non-animal egg protein product in 2021. Produced by inserting the DNA sequence of specific animal proteins right into a yeast medium and inducing fermentation, The Every Company’s proteins are functionally akin to animal protein, but with no animal ingredients.

Luchsinger says the longer term of protein for each animal and human applications is, in actual fact, in plant-based and cell-derived ‘meat.’ “Consumers are starting to understand that meat production accounts for a high percentage of worldwide warming gases like nitrous oxide,” Luchsinger explains. “Meat production also consumes a considerable amount of water. Some consumers have began searching for alternative protein sources which have a low impact on the climate and on water consumption.”

Supply Chains Reduce Eco Footprint

Sustainability is an all-encompassing principle that permeates not only the ingredients themselves but additionally their supply chain. While sourcing plant-based ingredients is one technique of reducing carbon emissions, pet health suppliers are taking steps to enhance sustainability across all the global chain. As an example, suppliers are increasingly incorporating clean-label principles like transparency and traceability into their operations, says Amanda Mackinnon, marketing and communications manager, Marinova (Cambridge, Australia).

“Consumer expectations for transparency have grown rapidly in recent times,” Mackinnon says. “Not only are consumers conscious of their very own environmental impact but additionally the environmental impact of their pets. The burgeoning consumer demand for natural health products which might be ethically and sustainably sourced is showing up within the pet health market.”

Pet health brands are supporting consumer demand by sourcing ingredients from clean-label suppliers, Mackinnon notes. Reasonably than using highly processed and commoditized ingredients, brands are increasingly partnering with suppliers that may reveal sustainable practices.

Furthermore, more suppliers are reimagining their processes to cut back their environmental impact. “Manufacturers of fucoidan have traditionally used solvents to precipitate the fucoidan polymer from crude seaweed extracts,” Mackinnon says. “This will result in contaminants in the ultimate extract. Fucoidans manufactured in this manner suffer many shortfalls, comparable to inconsistency in quality, compromised chemical integrity, and reduced bioactivity.”

Marinova has committed to a solvent-free extraction process that produces unadulterated fucoidan. Nevertheless, Marinova’s sustainability initiatives also go much further; the corporate is committed to improving sustainability across all the supply chain. Mackinnon notes that the corporate only sources wild macroalgae from clean ocean water using sustainable harvesting practices. Marinova deliberately avoids areas of ocean water which have been extensively farmed or contaminated by human or industrial activity. The entire company’s seaweed residues are repurposed into horticultural products, which keeps them out of landfills, she says.

Sustainability also starts on the farm, points out Gustavo Zenaide, vp of pet and animal wellbeing at ADM (Chicago). ADM works with its global network of suppliers to include sustainability practices in ingredient sourcing, from water conservation to greenhouse gas emission reductions and more. Zenaide says ADM’s Strive 35 plan is guiding the corporate in its efforts to enhance energy efficiency, recycle water, find alternative uses for waste byproducts, and sequester carbon emissions. Under the Strive 35 plan, by the 12 months 2035 ADM goals to chop its greenhouse gas emissions by 25%, reduce energy intensity by 15%, slash water usage by 10%, and achieve a 90% landfill diversion rate.

Beyond its internal initiatives, ADM is leveraging its capital to speculate in sustainability-leading corporations. In September 2021, ADM finalized an agreement to buy a controlling ownership stake in PetDine (Fort Collins, CO). “The PetDine group of corporations has shown a powerful commitment to improving sustainable practices inside their business,” Zenaide explains. “In 2020, PetDine announced that their production facility in Harvard, IL, is powered with solar energy, with a capability to offset roughly 1,500 tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually.”

Clean Labels and Natural Flavors Grow

Consumers are also choosing pet foods and pet health products which have fewer, simpler ingredients, in addition to natural flavors. In spite of everything, human nutrition trends are more continuously influencing the pet nutrition market, particularly as more consumers view pets as a member of the family, Zenaide says. Meaning growing interest in claims of “all natural,” “plant based,” “organic,” and “non-GMO.”

Pet parents are also searching for more natural flavors that appeal to picky pets, create a way of novelty, or offer a way of familiarity. Flavors like pumpkin spice, blueberry, and roast turkey might help healthy pet foods to command a premium, Zenaide notes.

Consumers are increasingly calling on brands to make it easier to trace pet food ingredients, too, Beneo’s Ronsmans says. Research conducted by Beneo shows that a majority of pet owners expect their pet’s food to be human-quality, which is why the demand for natural, healthy, clean-label ingredients is growing.

“Pet owners want comprehensible labels,” Ronsmans says. “In addition they want ingredients which might be nonallergenic and health promoting. Consumer interest in all things clean label is driving demand for more ethically sourced products. Consumers wish to see more sustainability information on pet food packaging.”

Beneo recently increased energy efficiency in its factories and is investing in technologies that may harvest more raw material, thereby reducing waste, Ronsmans says. Beneo also recently invested 50 million Euros in a latest pulse processing site in Germany, which helps to cut back carbon emissions on the farm level.

Consumers Dial Up the Scrutiny

Pet parents are more eco-conscious than ever, they usually’re willing to spend extra money on pet foods and pet health products that may meet their high expectations. Clean-label formulations, plant-based and whole-food ingredients, and provide chain transparency are a number of the dominant human nutrition market trends which have found their way into the pet health space.

As more consumers start to contemplate the sustainability implications of their buying habits and reduce their carbon footprints, demand for sustainably sourced pet food and pet ingredients will only grow.


  1. Kantar report. “Who Cares, Who Does?” Published September 2020.
  2. Press release. “OpenText Survey Shows Increase in Demand for Ethically Sourced Goods.” Posted September 29, 2021.
  3. Rotz CA et al. “Environmental footprints of beef cattle production in america.” Agricultural Systems, vol. 169 (February 2019): 1-13
  4. Thomas I. “Mark Cuban Invests in Plant-Based Protein Company, but It’s Not for Humans.” CNBC. Published online September 12 2021.