NielsenIQ uncovers consumer search trends

NielsenIQ uncovers consumer search trends

CHICAGO, ILL. – NielsenIQ officially released its data on consumer search terms and trends in the pet food and pet products market on April 8. According to NielsenIQ, the most notable pet food and treat searches for 2021 are for specialty diets, functional ingredients, and grains.

It’s no secret that pet food trends follow human food trends, but this is particularly evident in the pet specialty segment of the industry. According to NielsenIQ’s Label Insight Trending Attributes, search terms for vegan pet food ranked 58th, while terms with “raw” sat at No. 43 and “high protein” soared. at #54 from December 2020 to January 2022. The popularity of these search terms has increased significantly, according to NielsenIQ, because in previous years these specific terms did not rank in the top 100.

In specialty pet food, frozen and chilled diets are showing the strongest growth. Driving this trend is research proving the health benefits of chilled and frozen pet foods.

NielsenIQ top pet food search termsSource: NielsenIQ

“Feeding dogs a diet made up of real, natural ingredients, such as beef, chicken, lamb, peas, spinach, carrots, and blueberries, can do wonders for their overall well-being. – promote heart health, increase energy levels, make coat shiny and breath smell better, improve eyesight and even impact a dog’s bowel movements,” the American Kennel Club says.

According to NielsenIQ, the search term “chilled pet food” has increased by 61% since March 2021. Although chilled and frozen foods only represent around 16% of the total pet food market, the variety chilled diets increased by 70% and frozen options increased by 36%.

The chilled/frozen trend will only grow as brands expand distribution into e-commerce and direct-to-consumer retail, and other brands, like Wellness Pet Company, make their first foray into the market. ‘space.

With COVID-19 forcing many into self-isolation, people have started spending more time with their pets, resulting in an increased focus on animal health and welfare. The “food as medicine” trend observed by NielsenIQ, which targets products using functional ingredients, responds to this orientation.

According to the NielsenIQ Sustainability Guide, searches for holistic health ingredients in pet foods have seen double-digit year-over-year increases. The same growth is also happening with searches for functional health ingredients, but pet owners aren’t looking for specific ingredients. Instead, they focus more on functional claims, like “calming” or “sensitive stomach.”

NielsenIQ found that the search term “calming” has increased by 42% since March 2021, while search terms like “CBD” or “chamomile” have remained flat with no noticeable change. Searches for “dental and respiratory health”, “sensitive stomach” and “human quality” have also seen growth with double-digit search volume over the past year.

Following the trend of gluten-free human diets, pet foods experienced an explosion in grain-free consumer demand that peaked in the early 2010s. However, in July 2018, the FDA announced its investigation between grain-free diets and canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). The FDA announcement, which named several pet food brands, dramatically reduced consumer interest in grain-free pet diets as NielsenIQ saw a sharp drop in purchases and searches. of grain-free consumers after the announcement.

In September 2020, the FDA released its report, citing that it found no clear link between DCM in dogs and grain-free diets. Following the report, consumers have shown renewed interest in grain-free pet foods, as NielsenIQ has seen a steady growth in “grain-free” searches. But the grain-free trend has yet to see a drastic increase as consumers remain wary of these specific diets, with the FDA investigation leaving them with more questions than answers.

Learn more about NielsenIQ’s research on the most sought-after attributes in pet food.

Keep up to date with the latest pet food trends on our Trends page.

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