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In $6 Billion Pet Treat Market, Consumers Focus on “Clean Labels” and Transparency to Keep Dogs and Cats Healthy

ROCKVILLE, Md., Aug. 28, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — The U.S. retail market for pet treats is chewing up the competition, with sales growth consistently outpacing that of the more mature pet food market. As market research firm Packaged Facts discloses in the recent report Pet Treats and Chews in the U.S., 2nd Edition, this pet industry segment topped $6 billion in domestic retail sales last year and continued growth is forecast for the foreseeable future.

Market growth has continued despite consumer concerns regarding foreign-sourced pet treats and products, and the related recalls in recent years. In particular, the threats posed by Chinese-made jerky treats are still impacting the pet treats and chews market, with pet owners in the U.S. continuing to scrutinize pet products to ensure that they are both made and sourced in the U.S.

Although the market is now five years out from the spate of recalls that started in 2012—and ten years out from the devastating pet food recalls of 2007—consumers still do not take pet food and treat safety for granted. Packaged Facts’ June/July 2017 survey data show that 59% of pet treat purchasers agree that fear of contamination/product safety impacts their treat purchasing decisions. The safety of animal-based treats, such as rawhides, is of concern to an even greater percentage, 63%.

It’s important to realize that consumer demand has grown beyond just a desire for U.S.-sourced ingredients. Of particular interest to consumers is greater ingredient transparency in the form of “clean labels,” a term that refers to products that make a specific marketing claim while being free of artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, sweeteners, hormones, and antibiotics.

“Products touting ‘Made in the USA’ abound on store shelves, but being made in the U.S. isn’t the same as being sourced here,” says David Sprinkle, research director for Packaged Facts. “Educated consumers want to know where the ingredients in their pets’ treats are coming from, and more marketers are beginning to promote products as being sourced locally.”

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