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Pet Food Tracks People Food, Expert Says

Oct. 3, 2018
Pet food is becoming more upscale and “gourmet” in ways that parallel regular food, an agricultural economist told an audience of processors.

Speaking at the recent Feed and Pet Food Joint Conference in St. Louis, Jayson Lusk, head of the agricultural economics department at Purdue University, said that many of the forces that shape human food consumption—especially at the higher end of the scale—are replicated in pet-food trends. Gourmet and healthy options like Wagyu beef, organic, gluten-free, cage-free eggs and more can be found in the pet food aisle.

This is partly because pet owners are spending more in general. Pet food purchases are up 28% since 2001 and overall spending on pets is up 125%.

Lusk also said that pet food preferences are trending more toward “natural” and “clean” as opposed to technology-driven factors like genetically modified organisms or highly processed meat.

He mentioned China’s potential as an emerging market, noting that only about a quarter of Chinese homes have a pet—compared with about half in the U.S.—but that China has more than a billion more people.