Interzoo 2014 teemed with a renewed vitality. As the world begins to emerge from the economical doldrums that put a damper on recent Interzoo gatherings, both exhibitors and attendees at the world’s largest pet market trade fair seemed at ease and positive about the future.
I was part of the global AFB International team connecting with pet industry professionals from around the world at the biannual show held May 29 through June 1 in Nuremburg, Germany. The lively event boasted 1,700 exhibitors (up 10% from 2012) and 37,000 trade visitors from more than 120 countries. Visitors from abroad were up, too, with 69% hailing from outside Germany.
Like the larger pet care industry, AFB continues to grow. At the show, we shared two of our latest expansions: this PalatantsPlus blog site and our new state-of-the-art facility in Oss, The Netherlands. More on that in a moment. First, the most significant trends from the show.
The Human Element
Through financial setbacks, people often look to their pets as constants in a world of uncertainty. Perhaps as a result, the global pet industry has been dubbed “recession proof”—growing at about 4% annually over the past five years—despite the world-wide recession.
The growth is due in large part to the maturing mega-trend toward pet humanization, which has resulted in pet products from dog beer to decorative pet apparel and accessories of all kinds. In the pet food world, this trend has given rise to an emphasis on individualized pet foods that are more like human meals, including holistic, hypoallergenic and organic offerings, as well as a growing trend: biologically appropriate raw food (BARF), a back-to-nature approach.
Other common themes in evidence at Interzoo 2014 included:
• The Internet connection: Its role in educating consumers on pet issues, as well as offering a wide diversity of pet-related products, continues to expand. The Internet can be a powerful force for improving animal welfare—as well as a source of harmful misinformation. Educating consumers to know the difference will be key.
• Sustainability: Because the pet food industry is tightly linked with the human food system, its role in a sustainable future is drawing increased attention. Pet food professionals have the opportunity to influence sustainable pet ownership through product design, manufacturing processes, public education and policy change.
• Private labeling: According to the Private Label Manufacturers Association, store brands of pet products command an increasing percentage of the European market—with Portugal leading the pack at 77% of market and 58% of sales. In the United States, where two out of three households include a pet, the trend also is on the rise, driven by mega retailers like Walmart and Costco, and leading pet product retailers Petco and PetSmart.
• Mergers and acquisitions up: Big players continue to get bigger in the pet food market. The most recent example: The purchase of $2.9 billion worth of Procter & Gamble’s pet food business by Mars reported in April of this year. The deal, which brings brands Iams, Eukanuba and Natura into the Mars fold, excludes Europe for now.
AFB European Expansion
Another hot topic at Interzoo 2014 was the increasing emphasis on pet food quality and safety, underscored by more stringent regulations across Europe and around the world.
AFB is committed to exceeding both regional regulations and customer expectations in its palatant research and production. And that brings us back to AFB’s newly unveiled Oss manufacturing facility, which includes our relocated European offices and joins AFB’s network of locations around the globe.
Completed in November 2013, the plant is carefully designed to prevent cross-contamination and to ensure consistent high quality through constant monitoring. It is equipped to manufacture both liquid and dry palatability enhancers that may be applied topically or mixed into wet or dry foods and treats during manufacturing.
We appreciated all who took time to stop by our Interzoo booth. Thank you for your enthusiasm for our new offerings. If you haven’t already scheduled a tour of our new plant, please contact me to set up a visit.
Many of you also took our online survey to share your helpful thoughts on this PalatantsPlus.com blog and future topics. Special congratulations to our two iPad winners, drawn at random from among the show’s survey respondents.
We hope you’ll stay in touch through this blog, our regular email updates and AFBInternational.com. Or contact us by phone or email. We’re always glad to hear from you!