Pet Food Packaging Trends

Pet food packaging is the first line of defense in keeping our animals' nutrition safe from harm, but what kind of trends and materials do we most commonly see? Any good pet owner knows just how much we all love our dogs, cats, horses, reptiles, birds, and more. Because we love our four-legged or winged companions so much, it only makes sense that we want to give them the absolute best, from food and toys to the very materials used to package those products.  

The People Who Own Pets  

A 2018 report, “Pet Food Packaging – Global Market Outlook,”  stated that in 2017 the global pet food packaging market consisted of approximately $8.31 billion and that it is expected to reach a whopping $15.98 billion by the year 2026. Clearly, people across the world are willing to spend on their pets and that reflects in the amount of money put toward their food packaging material alone. 

But who exactly is spending this kind of money? The same report shows that North Americans tend to dominate the pet care and pet food industries and that “the continuing trend of pet humanization and willingness of American consumers to opt for premium pet food brands” is what spurs such growth. It should also be noted that in the United States, the Millennial generation consists of the largest segment of pet owners.  

High-Quality Materials for High-Quality Foods 

Along with healthy, premium foods and treats for their animals, pet owners want the packaging to match. It should be made of high-quality components that are both durable enough to hold up for long periods of time and safe enough to be used as food storage. At the same time, these pet food packaging materials must be functional as well. This means they should be lightweight and simple to transport or store in a cupboard or pantry. Furthermore, resealable elements that are easy to open and access while providing a secure closure are essential.  

Flexible Plastic Pouches 

Flexible plastic pouches are an emerging trend in the pet food packaging industry. This type of material offers a wide range of benefits to the consumer, in that they can be easily sealed and resealed, are able to keep food fresh, and can block out contaminants. All of these features mean that they preserve the nutrition within the pet food itself. Additionally, plastic material is equipped with excellent barrier properties (that can be further enhanced with extra additives) for temperature resistance. On top of all this, plastic is one of the most affordable packaging components. It’s no surprise that flexible plastic pouches have quickly become one of the most popular, if not the most popular, methods for containing pet food.  

Paperboard and Chipboard Containers 

Nearly every dog owner has seen the seemingly ubiquitous paperboard or chipboard box of treats. It’s a classic and for good reason. When storing dry food like a crunchy canine-friendly cookie or kibble-based snack, paperboard is an effective and affordable method. It doesn’t cost much, is easy to print on, and offers a convenient shape for shipping on a pallet and loading into larger boxes or containers. However, keep in mind that thin chipboard and paperboard are more susceptible to rips and tears, especially when a determined pooch has unsupervised access.  

Metal Cans and Cups 

While dog owners may be used to paperboard, cat owners have almost certainly seen metal cans used as a durable storage method for small portions of wet food. This pet delicacy is more prone to leaks and spills, so it needs a container that can prevent those side effects. Frequently, this type of packaging is made from tin or aluminum and is sealed tightly so no food, odors, or leaks can escape. The downside to this is that these containers can’t be resealed, which is why you often see only single servings packaged this way. That said, it’s very easy to recycle metal-based packaging products like tin or aluminum cans.  

What Animal Lovers Want 

Ultimately, animal owners want the same high-quality materials used in pet food packaging that they see for human food. They want premium components that are durable and secure enough to preserve nutrition and prevent spills, while at the same time are easy to open and can be reliably resealed. These goals are very obtainable for many pet food products and will help you stay competitive in a crowded market of different snacks, treats, and meals for all kinds of animals.