July 16, 2014


Author: Brooke Eiler

The pet food market is dynamic. That’s part of what makes the pet food industry so exciting—and challenging! Food trends, consumer preferences, raw material inputs and regulations all constantly change. It’s critical to closely follow these transformations so we can anticipate how they will impact pet food companies and their product development opportunities.

Tracking Signals
One way we monitor the pet food market is through our AFB International Benchmark Program. We regularly compare the palatability of popular pet foods to understand, at a high level, what’s happening in the industry. For example: If the palatability of food A suddenly decreases versus food B, we assess what the move might signal:
• Has the manufacturer of food B increased its palatability investment?
• Did food A’s manufacturer change its raw material inputs due to cost pressures?
• Does food B’s improved palatability coincide with a promotional campaign?
• Is the manufacturer of food A strategically changing that food’s market position?

At some point since the program’s inception, all of the above potential reasons have proven true—some more than once.

Why Benchmark?
When high-volume products in the market make a change, a ripple effect can be set in motion. The result? Some brands can get caught playing catch-up to make sure their palatability performance is on par or better. As a service to our AFB palatant customers, we keep them apprised of relative changes in pet food palatability. This helps them jump on opportunities—before they become problems.

AFB’s current Benchmark Program began in 2009. It focuses on assessing off-the-shelf pet food products using a series of two-bowl palatability tests. To reduce variability as much as possible, the manufacturing location of each brand is kept consistent from test to test. For head-to-head testing, we purchase products with manufacturing dates as similar as possible.

Real Results
At AFB, we regularly benchmark about two dozen brands of dog and cat food. As the market has changed, so have the pet foods we monitor. About half of the dog food brands we monitor have changed since 2009, and about one-third of the cat food brands have changed.

Figure 1 below is a sample of actual data from AFB’s Benchmark Program. The table compares the intake ratios of two premium cat food brands commonly distributed through pet superstores.



For additional examples of AFB head-to-head benchmarking results for dog and cat foods, check out our free download, AFB’s Benchmark Program: Tracking Palatability Performance at AFBInternational.com.

Want to know more about how AFB tracks trends and changes in the pet food industry? Contact me at beiler@afbinternational.com or connect with your local AFB representative.


Tags: two-bowl palatability tests, pet food products, pet food market, pet food industry, pet food companies, palatability, intake ratio, head-to-head testing, AFBInternational.com, AFB International Benchmark Program,

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AFB’s Benchmark Program

AFB International regularly benchmarks the comparative palatability of popular pet foods—and alerts customers to related opportunities.