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In 2012, Canadian retail pet care products sales reached close to C$3 billion, growing by close to 4% in current value. Dog and cat food continues to account for over 60% of all pet care sales. While growth remains positive, Canadian pet care is increasingly faced with a number of challenges. These include an ageing population and legislative changes, such as a proposed bylaw in Montreal to limit the number of pets per household. Coupled with overall sales saturation, these factors are expected to unfavourably affect demand for pet care in the near future. In an increasingly challenging operating environment, innovation remains as crucial as ever to drive value growth.

The latest product developments were showcased at the Canadian Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council annual trade show, which took place in September 2012 in Toronto. New product development covered a wide variety of pet care product areas and exemplified manufacturers’ efforts to respond to pet owners’ demands, as well as to encourage spending on discretionary pet products.

Continuing emphasis on natural and biologically-appropriate pet food

While being not entirely new to Canada, the trend towards biologically-appropriate, grain-free and natural food is continuing. This trend is in large part in response to pet owners’ concerns over product contents, partly due to an ongoing media focus on pet food ingredients. Examples of latest innovation include Nutram Grain-free by Nutram Pet Products, which is marketed as a low-glycaemic diet that helps to control appetite, lower the risk of metabolic diseases and improve overall health. The products contain no potato and are enriched with ingredients such as chia seed, quinoa seed, berries, pomegranate and kale. Also, Nutram products claim to contain fresh fruits and vegetables from local Canadian sources. Additionally, in 2012 Champion Petfoods introduced a line of Orijen biologically-appropriate freeze dried dog treats that are high in protein and are based on Canadian meat such as Alberta free-range lamb.

Nutram Grain-Free by Nutram Pet Products

Nutram Grain-Free by Nutram Pet Products

Lifestyle and bonding experience in dog treats

Focusing on the fun nature of treats and the bonding experience that can be obtained through treats, manufacturers such as OmegaPaw presented a line of Brew Buddies – dog treats featuring malted barley, with this being a major ingredient used in beer. The marketing slogan on the packaging invites customers to “Share the Moment”.

Brew buddies

Brew Buddies by OmegaPaws

New packaging to encourage impulse purchases

Selling individual biscuits, especially by cash registers, is a not a new trend. However, concerns over the hygiene of unwrapped and unlabeled products led to the introduction of see-through and fully protective packaging. This helps to alleviate food quality and hygiene concerns while continuing to encourage impulse purchases. Examples of such innovation can be found in shrink-wrap packaging by Amelia Biscuit Company.

Shrink wrap packaging photo by Amelia Biscuit Company

Shrink-wrap packaging by Amelia Biscuit Company

Pet dietary supplements coming into focus as regulations in Canada change

With estimated retail sales of nearly C$255 million, Canadian pet dietary supplements continues to evolve. More products are making their way into Canada as a new regulatory pilot programme for dog and cat supplements came into effect in March 2012

Licensing, convenience, environment and functionality in focus in auxiliary pet care products

While pet food remains the core category of Canadian pet care, auxiliary pet care products are an important driver of value growth. Convenience and eco-friendly design feature strongly in categories such as pet waste disposal, example being a line of Earth Rated PoopBags featuring biodegradable plastic bags. Functionality and aesthetic appeal are in the spotlight in apparel, example being Canada Pooch line of designer apparel. Additionally, collaboration with media franchises and licensing featured prominently in categories such as aquarium decorative products, with example being a line of Finding Nemo aquarium decorative products by Penn-Plax Inc featuring Finding Nemo cartoon characters.

Earth rated poop bags for walking pets

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