Blog Series 7: Meat and fish by-products provide high margin opportunities in pet food industry

In this and in the next blog posts we will explore how the pet food industry provides an opportunity to sell higher margin meat and fish by-products; humanisation, natural and transparency trends drive the growth of the demand for premium products; Coctio and its technology can help you grasp this exciting opportunity.

According to a recent GfK analysis, the roughly €60 billion global pet food market grew about 4% in 2015. The USA and Europe represent about two-thirds of the global pet food market. Dogs represent about 80% of food spending. In Europe alone, there are about 650 pet food producing plants generating about 9 million tons of pet food products annually (fediaf, the European Pet Food Industry Federation).   

Humanisation drives industry growth

Nielsen research (The Humanization of Pet Food, 2016) shows that “in the US, 95% of pet owners currently consider their pets to be part of the family. This trend correlates with the growth of certain pet food segments, including healthy treats, specialty pet foods and other more premium options. Increasingly, pet owners are moving from expectations of high quality (for pets) to humanised; that is, they desire pet food options that address the same health concerns currently influencing human food production, such as unnatural preservatives.” 

Premium natural & healthy pet foods

Natural products with nutritional benefits have seen remarkable growth in demand, especially in the US where Natural has captured 68% of total shelf space (GfK). An example is Dog Chow Natural from Purina, which is made with real chicken as the No. 1 ingredient and without any artificial flavors, colors or preservatives. There are also plenty of new health oriented pet foods to address growing demand for specific health related conditions. Some product examples include Purina Pro Plan for weight management and digestive health, Pedigree Healthy Joints food to support healthy joints and cartilage, Pedigree Sensitive Nutrition food for dogs with allergies.

These product categories are expected to grow further also in the future as there is a broad global trend towards smaller pets (which are more likely to be indulged and humanised compared to larger dogs), notably cats and dogs as a consequence of urbanisation, an ageing population and smaller households. Euromonitor (Pet Humanisation: the trend and its strategic impact on global pet care markets, 2014) suggests that in developed markets where overall pet population is decreasing such as US, UK, Japan, France and Spain, there is typically growth in some, if not all, types of smaller pets.

Increased demand for transparency

Consumers are today more vigilant and careful in the selection of pet food products, also as a result of recent food scandals (e.g. horse meat case in Europe). A study (Investigation into the animal species contents of popular wet pet foods, 2015), conducted by a team of researchers and published in Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica - the official journal of the Veterinary Associations of the Nordic Countries - has found that many pet food brands contain unspecified animal parts that are not listed on labels. The study concluded that there is a need for the pet food industry to be more transparent with consumers in the disclosure of the types of animal proteins in their products. In the US, pet food class action lawsuits are becoming the norm. Many of these lawsuits are over false “natural” label claims ( This is expected to increase on one hand the demand for increased pet food ingredient transparency and pet food safety policy, but also encourage pet food manufacturers to take advantage of higher quality natural ingredients combined with a more transparent approach.

The next blog will expand on why Coctio based by-products suit the pet industry and provide an excellent opportunity to generate new profitable revenue streams from meat and fish bones. 

Jukka Rovamaa August 24, 2016

Overview of the Coctio process for value-added bone management concept