A Guide to Sustainable Packaging In Pet Food

13 September 2021
Sustainable Packaging In Pet Food

When looking at the future of pet food packaging, there are some trends that offer hints on what’s about to happen. Firstly, the number of pet acquisitions among Millennials, which was already on the rise in previous years, has reported a sharp increase during the Covid-19 pandemic. Also, the consumers’ generational shift means that eco-conscious Millennials and GenZ’s are leading the way to change. 

The pet food industry is torn between these two trends. On one hand, the pet food sector is the fastest growing one in the pet care industry, with a reported CAGR of 9.08% over the past four years. On the other is the need to reduce the huge impact owning a pet has on climate change and carbon footprint. The biggest contributor is what you put in your pet’s bowl.

So, there is undoubtedly a bright future ahead for your pet food packaging company – but not without a drastic shift towards sustainability. And remember that consumers will make up a brand’s impression within seconds, and your packaging is the first thing they will see – there is no second chance to get it right!

The Need For Sustainability

The pet food packaging industry is not the only one affected by the soaring sustainability trend. In fact, 90% of consumers report checking out a company to ensure that the business’s goals and mission align with their own values, and most buyers have learned how to distinguish between genuine efforts and greenwashing. 

So, how has this sustainability trend shifted today’s consumer’s buying behaviour when choosing food for their pets? Here are a few factors to keep in mind:

  • Buyers are looking for local, organic, clean, minimally processed foods
  • Packaging labels and certifications, including “recyclable”, “organic”, “Cruelty-Free” and “BPA-Free” play an important role in the buying process.
  • Pet owners are more aware of the principles of preventive medicine, and they look for healthier, beneficial foods and ingredients
  • Larger package sizes that are resealable and durable
  • Bulk buying to reduce packaging. 

The need for sustainability, combined with the perceived humanisation of pets, has encouraged owners to shop for higher-quality products that are also better for the environment – and most of them are ready to pay 20% more for these products!

The Issue With Food-Grade Packaging 

Of course, the problem of plastic pollution and waste concerns all industries, and manufacturers across all sectors have learned how to appeal to consumers by cutting down on packaging or simply swapping to eco-friendly alternatives. 

However, the fast-moving consumer goods market – or the consumer packaged goods (CPG) sector – has an added challenge to overcome. In fact, since they are quickly consumed and bought again, these products account for much of a household’s waste.

Additionally, the packaging used for these goods needs to be food-grade, which means that it needs to reflect specific health and safety guidelines. Because of all this, the pet food industry is struggling to swap to more sustainable packaging and labelling. 

However, thanks to developing technologies, positive news tells us that the industry is changing. 

For example, leading members of the soft-drink industry have generated the first food-grade, fully recycled plastic bottle, and giants of the beverage sector such as Absolute are selling their drinks in Pulpex, a new, eco-friendly packaging technology.  

Sustainability Throughout the Packaging’s Lifecycle

Pet owners and pet food buyers might be looking for recyclable products, but this is no longer the only indicator that a certain packaging type is eco-friendly. In fact, in the UK, around 68% of packaging waste and 46% of household waste is recycled – the rest of it does end up in landfills. 

So, the solution to the waste problem is not to create products that may or may not be recycled. Instead, it is important to weave sustainability in every step of the pet food packaging manufacturing process. 

From the start, each piece of pet food packaging needs to be manufactured from materials that are ethical and sustainably sourced. Additionally, it is important to separate the different materials, so that they can be easily disposed of in the right way. And of course, each material used should be recycled, recovered, or biodegradable where possible. 

Less is More: When Luxury Becomes Minimalist

As we have seen, sustainability is the main trend reshaping the pet food packaging industry. However, the increasing pet humanisation is also impacting the pet food packaging sector. In fact, consumers are not only looking for products that are wrapped in recyclable materials. They are also looking for premium quality, minimally processed, and responsibly sourced ingredients that can help them take the best care of their pets. 

And, such a premium product needs to be wrapped in a luxurious label. This is where luxury meets minimalism: today’s designers need to increase a product’s perceived value for money while also sticking to the principles of sustainability. 

New Brands Are Born Sustainable 

Pet food packaging companies that have recently joined the booming market are based on sustainability – which is also integrated into their mission statement and consumer offer.  A great example is Scrumbles.

For these new brands, sustainable packaging is often the only possible option, especially if they are involved with environmental causes, such as protecting the oceans, turtle conservation, or animal equality. 

After all, choosing another alternative to sustainable packaging, for them, would mean actively going against their values, which is something that can inhibit customer loyalty and affect the brand reputation.

What Do You Want To Communicate Through Your Pet Food Packaging?

For many pet food packaging companies, the sustainability trend and the consumer’s request to switch to sustainable packaging represents a significant challenge. At the same time, the labels and packaging you use offer your brand unparalleled opportunities to tell your consumers all about your story – at a glance. 

Minimalist packaging, earthy colours, recycled and upcycled materials, minimally-dyed labels, and premium ingredients can be enough for eco-conscious consumers to learn more about your brand and decide to switch to your products. 

While you might be looking for a long-term solution for your products, it is important to understand that technology keeps developing, thus allowing for new possibilities to reduce your brand’s footprint and gain your consumers’ loyalty in an always more competitive landscape.

Make sure to collaborate with an expert pet food packaging design that can tell you about the latest advancements in sustainable materials and allow you to create labels that convey the right message. 

If you would like to work with experts in packaging production on your pet food brand then get in touch today and email pippa.walsh@brandims.com.


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