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As another sign that human nutrition trends are affecting pet food, the latest Nielsen IQ data shows the impact of consumers’ continued focus on the health and well-being of themselves and their families, including furry members. This emphasis has only intensified during and after the pandemic.

“More than $175 billion is spent annually on health and wellness products in the US, proving that health and wellness is no longer a channel, but a way of life,” the article says. article on the NielsenIQ website. “As a result, pet owners have begun to treat pets like just another member of the family, making purchasing decisions for their pets that align with their personal purchasing decisions.”

I would argue that pet owners started treating their pets as part of the family long before the pandemic, but I agree with the article’s author (unnamed) that since the pandemic-induced lockdown forced owners to spend more time at home with their pets, health and animal welfare have become even more important.

Popular pet food categories, search terms

In addition, the years of the pandemic have only accelerated many of the pet food and growth trends that have been on the rise before, including those related to human food trends. According to NielsenIQ, it also refers to the terms pet owners use when looking for pet food.

For example, popular food trends for humans, such as veganism and high protein foods, come up when looking for pet food. From December 2020 to January 2022, searches related to vegan pet food ranked 58th.th among the top queries in a tracking product called NielsenIQ Label Insight Trending Attributes. Similarly, the high protein content ranked 54th.th. “In past years, these terms have never made it into the top 100” for pet food, the article says.

Raw was another high-ranking search term for pet food, ranking 43rd.rd, after previously also not appearing in the top 100. For pet food’s sister format, chilled pet food, searches have increased by 61% since March 21, according to NielsenIQ, despite the subcategory only comprising 16% of all pet products.

However, as before the pandemic, the volume of raw frozen and chilled pet food has continued to rise since 2020: 36% for frozen and 70.3% for chilled since 2020 in terms of food quantity. “We predict these trends will continue to shape in the coming years as brands like FreshPet and Tylee’s are now conveniently distributed through the Chewy retail chain,” NielsenIQ said in the article.

Pet owners looking for products to solve problems

NielsenIQ claims that the growing interest of pet owners in functional ingredients in pet food and other pet products is not showing up as specific searches; rather, owners search using terms “at the level of a descriptive category to combat the disease they are trying to cure”. An example is “calming” pet products compared to specific ingredients such as CBD and chamomile: since March 2021, searches for sedatives have increased by 42%, while there has been no noticeable change for CBD or chamomile.

Similar descriptive searches related to the condition or attributes of ingredients that are growing in popularity among pet owners — all showing double-digit growth since March 2021 — include dental and respiratory health, sensitive stomachs, and the human level.

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