Pet Food is a fast-paced industry, with continual innovation driving trends and shaping the way brands market to their diverse customer base. Our team were lucky enough to stop by Interzoo this year, one of the largest pet trade exhibitions in the world, to see first-hand the exciting new pet food packaging trends for 2018.
Let’s start with the marketing messages clearly visible across many new packs and product launches. As pets become an integral part of the typical modern family, owners are increasingly willing to spend more on foods and treats, as well as pampering products and services for their furry friends.
Packaging is increasingly designed to speak to the owner, with cues and claims traditionally associated with human foods. The introduction of new superfoods, healthy snacks in single serve formats, holistically focussed treats to calm and relax pets, as well as plant-based alternatives to meat foods such as vegan and vegetarian, were all spotted at the show.
Strong visual photography has always been used in packaging to create striking graphics and immediate impact. However more recently, rather than the more traditional images of pets adorning front of the pack, brands have been experimenting with food photography.
Brands such as Belcando covered the front of the pack with extremely clear visuals of meat, creating a background pattern from the photograph. Using food photography in this way is designed to stir the senses and evoke positive feelings towards the product and its freshness.
It also lends itself to more visible brand transparency, where ingredients are visually on display giving the impression the brand has nothing to hide.
Similar to the surge in complete transparency from human food companies, pet foods are seeing the same consumer demand for high-quality ingredients, fuelling growth in the premium pet food sector. Brands are steering towards more natural, organic ingredients and communicating origin, sourcing and processing. All designed to highlight the quality of the product, with some even marketing the products as human grade.
Driven by shifting consumer demand and unrelenting media attention on packaging waste brands are now feeling the pressure to move towards more sustainable practices. Many brands were seen to be focused on reducing environmental impact in manufacturing and processing. When it comes to packaging, however, sustainability is a complicated area without clear definition. Some brands and packaging suppliers are currently making claims that can’t always be supported.
New innovative materials in development such as compostable and biodegradable, may have difficulty finding their way to the right waste streams, especially here in the UK. We would always recommend that brands think about the full life cycle of their packaging and have open conversations with suppliers before committing to new and unknown materials.
The shift to sustainability and brand transparency is reflected in pet food packaging design, where many brands opted for an authentic, artisanal and organic look and feel.
Retorn, for example, use vintage black and white photography suggesting a rich brand heritage and playing on positive warm emotions and the bond between owners and their pets. Other key design cues took natural textures and earthy colourways to give the appearance of Kraft like packaging.
As the millennial market grows with influence brands are adopting more modern and playful packaging design looking to attract this lucrative market.
Pastel colours have calming, feminine qualities, and so it is no coincidence these colours have been adopted by disrupter brands, especially in the feline market. Iti biti’s range of small pouches centres around different pastel Pantone’s, giving a naïve and somewhat whimsical feel to the collection and Lindocat use pastel colours to differentiate between product types in their cat litter range.