A recent report by Packaged Facts estimates the overall U.S. pet food and treats market at $39 billion in 2020. Given the increase in pet adoption in 2020, seasoned and new pet parents alike are seeking the best options for their four-legged companions.
Brands must analyze every component of their operation and product to provide an option that is going to stand out to consumers. One item that should not be overlooked is packaging. While many brands are implementing cost-saving measures in their packaging and removing convenience features, premium pet food brands can fill the void and meet the demands of eco-conscious consumers who want the best products for their pets and the environment. Offering reclosable flexible packaging can keep brands on the cutting edge of the optimal consumer experience, with extended shelf-life, easy storage, contaminant protection and more. Here’s why.
1. People Are Willing to Spend More for Pets & the Environment
Pets have truly become family members, and this has led to increased expectations for the products we purchase for them, especially food. This includes all-natural ingredients, better health benefits and sustainable options that help protect the world in which our pets live. While these premium options come at a cost, pet owners are willing to pay for them. This is particularly true when it comes to younger owners. Seventy-three percent of millennials and 68% of Gen Zers are willing to spend more for sustainable products, according to First Insight. Brands that put an emphasis on better packaging can stand out from those cutting costs on convenience features.
2. Product Protection is Vital
FINN CADY reports that 80% of dog and cat owners agree that what their pet eats impacts its health. For pet food brands, this means product integrity is a must. Packaging plays a major role in maintaining quality, from manufacturing through consumption.
FDA-recognized manufacturing processes and approved supplier materials are crucial for creating packaging that does not have a negative impact on the food or pet. Packaging that includes low-quality resins, inks and adhesives could be prone to leaching, which can create an undesirable odor or taste. This could prevent the pet from eating the food, or worse, make her sick.
Quality flexible packaging materials and designs provide excellent product protection when paired with compatible closure technologies. The key to pet food freshness is a secure oxygen barrier that protects the food from contaminants like bacteria, pests, odor, light and moisture. Using closures with high-integrity seals that don’t leak, gap or distort ensures that your product will be fresh upon purchase and consumption. Also, flexible packaging’s durable, puncture-resistant materials help the product survive the supply chain, whether through brick-and-mortar or e-commerce.
3. Pet Owners Want Convenient Products
While pet owners want products that are good for their pets, they also want products that are convenient and functional. A package that is difficult to open, seal and pour makes for a frustrating user experience and a potential mess. Additionally, a poor package experience can lead to the pet owner transferring the food to a secondary container, which can cause the product to lose its freshness or become contaminated. This results in lost branding to the secondary container and being linked to an inferior product.
Storing dry pet food in its original package helps maintain the food’s nutritional value, per the FDA, and reclosable pouch packaging offers a convenient seal that is easy to open and close while keeping food fresh. Using premium closure features like zippers with an enhanced audible snap and solid touch as they close gives consumers confidence that the package is properly sealed. When food stays fresh longer, consumers save money by avoiding product waste, and they have all of the product information readily available in case of a product defect or recall.
4. Flexible Packaging Provides Sustainability Benefits
Flexible packaging offers many sustainability benefits for both brands and consumers. For brands, recyclable closures that feature enhanced sealant layers can adhere easily to sustainable film structures, allowing for fully recyclable packaging options. These flexible packages help lower carbon emissions, water and fossil fuel usage, and materials to landfill throughout their life cycle. Additional manufacturing benefits for brands include protection from film distortion and faster converting cycles, thanks to easy zipper crush locks that require minimal heat for sealing.
These environmental benefits can be easily communicated to consumers who will enjoy supporting a brand that cares about the environment and provides an opportunity for pet owners to contribute to a circular economy.
More Convenience, More Customers
According to data from IRI All Outlet Panel, nearly 7-in 10 households have purchased pet food and treats in the past year. Combine that with the knowledge that approximately 60% of dog and cat owners are concerned about their pet’s nutrition (FINN CADDY), and you get a substantial consumer segment that wants quality products for their pets.
Premium pet food brands do not have to sacrifice packaging convenience and functionality to attract customers. In fact, providing safe, sustainable and user-friendly options at a premium communicates the value your product offers. And, using innovative packaging features and designs lets pet owners know they are buying only the best for their best pals.