The same forces shape many aspects of the pet food industry. Bird, smallmammal and even backyard poultry are no exception.

Trends seen in dog and cat foods appeared in the small mammal and bird foodsand treats that debuted at SuperZoo2021. The dominant trends in the petindustry, regardless of species, remain humanization and premiumization. Amongfoods and treats for small mammals and birds, including backyard hen feed,these trends manifested themselves in various ways.

“Natural, healthy, premium products that support ancestral and instinctivebehaviors continue to be relevant trends that have influenced small animalfood production and marketing,” Erin Lenz, senior brand manager for KayteeSmall Animal. “In the wild, small animals forage from a range of differentingredients where they are mentally stimulated from the various tastes andtextures. To support the mental and physical health of domesticated smallanimals pet parents are looking for healthy, natural and enriching food andhay that offers a variety of unique tastes, textures, and experiences.”

Kaytee’s new food and hay product line Field+Forest uses these types ofingredients from natural ecosystems, he said, along with added vitamins andminerals. Like other pet products, Field+Forest marketing also promotes whatit doesn’t contain, including sweeteners, like molasses, fillers, orartificial preservatives. Each all-in-one pellet features species-specificingredients that pets and owners can see, smell and taste. Kaytee’s rabbit,guinea pig and chinchilla diets use high-fiber timothy hay as the firstingredient. Hamster, gerbil and rat diets are made with a variety of plantproteins and grains and no timothy hay. The pellets have species-unique shapesto support dental health and prevent selective feeding.

“The demand for premium products for small mammals continues to be strong,”Lenz said. “When purchasing small animal food, pet parents are looking forhealthy, species-specific food that use natural ingredients and do not containadded sugar, fillers, or artificial preservatives. Every small animal isdifferent and needs varying levels of protein, fat, and fiber to help themlive their best life.”

Like other pet food ingredients, small mammal owners scrutinize the growingconditions of the grasses and other items in their animals’ foods. Pet ownerswant fresh, high-fiber hay grown specifically for small animals withoutpesticides, Lenz said. Pet parents want to provide their small pets withmental and physical stimulation as they graze. In addition to aiding indigestive and dental health, offering a variety of hay mimics the variety arabbit, guinea pig, or chinchilla would find in the wild.

Humanization and premiumization of bird food

Kaytee also released a line of species-specific bird foods for Macaw, Canureor Parrots. Likewise in pet bird food and even chicken feed, pet ownersincreasingly examine the origins and nutritional value of everything they feedtheir pets.

“The knowledge that we have in the bird food industry is fairly new incomparison to other industries,” Chris Alcalde, head of sales for Bird StreetBistro said. “It is going towards more human-grade products or products thatare organic in their nature.”

Pet bird foods have changed as makers have learned more about various species’nutrient needs. Alcalde believes bird food makers are entering a third stage.

“First it was seeds,” he said. “Now pellets. What we did with pellets was wetried to overcompensate for the lack of nutrition with seeds, and now we’reseeing the effects of that. Now we’re going to what nature gave us. Back tothe basics.”

Bird Street Bistro’s new products could be confused for high-end human foods.The packaging would blend in among human items, with clear plastic side wallsand bold lettering.

“We want to show to customers that there aren’t any fillers,” Alcalde said.“That what they’re getting is plainly visible. They can see through the bag.They can see the all-natural ingredients that they are familiar with.”

Those ingredients include quinoa, which birds native to South America mighthave encountered in farmers’ fields along the foothills of the AndesMountains. Other ingredients include organic blueberries, grains and driedfruits or vegetables. All oc the Bird Street Bistro foods are meant to becooked before serving to the birds, like some superpremium fresh dog and catfoods.

The same forces shape many aspects of the pet food industry. Bird, smallmammal and even backyard poultry are no exception.

New small mammal and bird pet foods and treats at SuperZoo 2021

These products presented at SuperZoo 2021 exemplified how humanization,premiumization and other trends influence dog, cat and other pet foods.

Earth Animal Wisdom chicken feed – Backyard hens continue to move into themainstream and occupy a hybrid role as pet livestock. With that comes thepremiumization and humanization of chicken feed.

Happy Hen Ultrapeckable Feed black soldier fly larvae or worm protein chickenfeeds – Insect-based and other invertebrate ingredients seem natural for hendiets. These products now market insects on the front of packaging, as in dogand cat food and treats.

Flock Pro SuperFlock – Along with vitamins and minerals, this chicken productprovides digestive enzymes, prebiotic, probiotics, functional ingredients forimmune system heath, all claims familiar from other pet foods.

Volkman Pet Products –These small mammal products looked like high-end soupmixes in clear pouches partly covered by blocks of color and scrollingcalligraphy.

Source: Tim Wall Petfood Industry

Image: Bigstock

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