• August 30, 2023

SKU Mentors share top trends from SuperZoo ’23

SKU Mentors share top trends from SuperZoo ’23

SKU Mentors share top trends from SuperZoo ’23 700 500 Michelle Breyer

Earlier this month, more than 18K pet professionals from more than 84 countries converged on Las Vegas for SuperZoo ’23. SuperZoo, North America’s premier pet retail trade show, showcases the latest trends in the $100 billion pet industry in every category.

At this year’s sold-out show, the energy was sky high, said SKU mentor and industry veteran Julie Nelson. “It felt so much more alive than the past few post-COVID shows.”

The show, produced by the World Pet Association, is the ideal venue for emerging pet brands to get in front of over 10K key decision makers.

Nana Pfeifer, Homescape Pets

“SuperZoo was an incredible experience,” says SKU alum Nana Pfeifer, co-founder of Homescape Pets, an Austin-based pet supplement brand. “It was great for connecting with other brands, for collaborations, manufacturing and supplier introduction and for gaining more credibility and brand awareness just by virtue of being an exhibitor. Those connections will yield great relationships and partnerships in the future. And that’s pretty exciting!”

D.R.E.A.M. Pet Food Founder Paul Paige says SuperZoo is the show to be at every year for emerging brands.

“Not only from the connections you can make but from gaining a market intelligence in real time about where perspective segments of the industry are going,” says Paige. “As industry professionals Jaime (Cooper) and I frequented this show each year for this very reason. Now owning our own brand it is even more beneficial and relevant to what we are trying to accomplish in the years to come.”

Carol Frank, Birdseye Advisory Group

With 5 million more pets in the U.S. since the pandemic began, Morgan Stanley predicts 8 percent annual growth in the pet industry by 2030. On the household level, Morgan Stanley predicts spending to increase to $1,320 per pet by 2025, while reaching $1,897 by 2030. Even when animal owners cut other parts of their budgets, their pet care routine often remains.

“I can’t imagine an industry more positive,” said SKU mentor Carol Frank, managing director of Birdseye Advisory Group.

Although she says the industry has become pretty saturated – “there are so many products” – she’s excited by the industry’s growth. “A lot of people are buying a lot of products!”

Frank and and Nelson shared some of the trends that stood out to them at SuperZoo.

Air-dried is Hot – There has been an ongoing rise in the number of non-kibble options, with a number of brands jumping on the air-dried bandwagon. SKU alum A Pup Above, for example, now offers an air-dried option in addition to its original fresh food.

Coming out on Top – “Toppers are a great way to build the basket, customize the bowl and gain that all-important expandable consumption,” says Nelson, who saw bone broth, goat milk, freeze-dried and various wet formats. SKU Petcare brand 5 Element Food Therapy, offers a range of food additions.

Enrichment Toys – A growing number of brands are offering toys that not only entertain pets but can also stimulate and challenge them.

Pet Wellness: From pet supplement brands like SKU alum Homescape Pets to those offering diagnostic tests like SKU Petcare brand Innovation Pet Lab, brands are offering innovative new products as owners invest more in the overall health of their pets

The Cat’s Meow – While much of the innovative and energy has been around dog products, a growing number of brands are focusing on cats. One of those is chef Bobby Flay’s Made by Nacho, a premium cat food brand that includes wet and dry food, toppers and treats. Nelson helped launch the brand, serving as president.

Functional ingredients in every type of product – supplements are not the only place that brands are using functional ingredients. “It felt like all of the new dry and wet foods were touting some type of benefit from functional ingredients,” says Nelson. “I even saw a water (yes, water in a bottle) marketed as functionally beneficial to cats.”

Upcycled ingredients – What has been a hot trend in the human food and beverage industry is making its way into the petcare arena. Nelson cites such brands as Shameless Pets and Open Farm as two brands who focus on upcycling.

Sustainable packaging – While few large brands have shifted to sustainable packaging, some smaller brands have focused on sustainable packaging. “I predict it will still be 3-5 years before the big brands are really doing anything about it,” says Nelson. “It’s just too gosh-darned expensive.”

New Labeling Laws – The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) approved new dog and cat food label guidelines that will include new standards for nutrition information, ingredient statements, and storage and handling instructions. It is the first major revision since the 1990s. Manufacturers will have six years to transition to the new regulations, but education already has begun. “Ultimately this is good for the pet food consumer,” says Nelson.