Going Global

The legendary Dr Roger Mugford

I love working in the pet industry because I get to spend every day surrounded by pets and people who love them. And there is no question that the Global Pet Expo held in Florida annually is a highlight on my calendar. It’s an opportunity to see new innovation come to life and meet the movers and shakers who make it all happen.

This year, the pet centric public relations team Matrix Partners asked to me give them my insight on the trends and products that will be showcased at the show. My picks of the litter so to speak!

There is no question that two of the most important categories at this upcoming show are going to be food and behavior-related. The pet food recall of 2007 really changed everything. The message is finally infiltrating into pet owners’ inboxes – you are what you eat – and this applies to your pet too!

I have had the good fortune to work with many food companies and I am always totally amazed at the science that goes on behind the scenes. Pet owners go to a store and find a bag or a can to suit their pet’s nutritional needs. When I see a bag or a can, I visualize it filled with nutritional scientists and canine and feline testers all who work together like in a frenetic cartoon tableau to perfect the contents and make it nutrition that really matters.

With it comes the fact that people now have an amazing array of choices; bagged for convenience, canned, freeze-dried, raw frozen … its all there. And grain free – the new buzzword…

For some reason, cats seem to get less attention than dogs on a grand scale. So I am looking forward to seeing what Spring Naturals is debuting for our feline friends.  There are new freeze-dried choices from Bravo. Wellness is now talking about the absence of genetically modified ingredients, which I am sure, is going to be a big trend in the future.

And there is no question that organic is becoming a huge trend to follow too. More than 32 per cent of all pet food sold in now organic. In fact Merrick Pet Care who make Castor and Pollux became the first pet food company to earn organic certification under the USDA National Organic Program for all its Texas-based manufacturing facilities, making them the only certified manufacturer of both dry and canned pet foods. And all these companies along with Natura, makers of Innova are collectively embracing the Slow Food Movement. Homegrown produce is in – ingredients from China are out!

Pet parents spend more than $20 billion a year on foods. That’s a lot of kibble …

There is no question that one of my favorite booths to visit at the show is In The Company of Animals, not only to see that latest behavioral and training products but to meet with two of the most influential names in the industry.

Dr. Roger Mugford is a legend in Britain. And he is the closest I am ever going to get to pet Her Majesty the Queen’s corgis! (Roger, if you have any corgi hair on your trousers, I will happily come with some new fangled hair removing gadget and remove it as a souvenir!) If Dr Mugford is good enough to train the Royal dogs, his training products are definitely a must have to train Fido at home.

Nina O Dog Miracle In Use 5

Then there my friend Nina Ottossen, above, the mastermind behind so many fabulous dog and cat puzzles. People take these puzzles for granted – just another new toy. Yet again, a lot of behavioral science goes into the box. Nina has studied and perfected it all so that pet parents have great options to prevent boredom at home and to give our pets both mental and physical stimulation. I am looking forward to seeing her again too along with her latest products.

When it comes to behavioral issues and cats, I’m keen to learn what companies like Imperial Cat and Enchanted Home Pet have in new scratchers for our feline friends. Corrugated cardboard is such a fabulous material because its recyclable, the closest thing to tree bark which cats love and easy to cut out into interesting shapes.

Toys are always a big category and I am looking forward to seeing new shapes designs and technology such as those silent squeakers that only dogs can hear first released by Hear Doggy. Again the industry is truly embracing the fact that there are three kinds of toys namely action, distraction and comfort.

The pet industry has definitely gone techie with companies such as Motorola entering the pet space.  Petsafe are also introducing a plethora of new gadgets for pet parents to monitor their pet’s activity levels and even play I spy on their pets at home. Not to mention a lot of new start-ups. Last year it was the iFetch – an automatic ball-throwing device.

I can’t wait to see what it will be there time around. Let’s go Global!