PETS petfoodPackaged Facts releases a new prediction.

ROCKVILLE, MD — Ten years ago, organic pet foods appeared ready to become the next big thing in the pet world, but the trend never quite materialized, Packaged Facts reports.

But it soon may.

Packaged Facts identifies a few main reasons why organic pet food has yet to achieve significant market penetration:

  • Supply issues: The recent growth in popularity of organic foods in human markets means that suppliers are already stretched thin. Add to this the issue that many ingredients in pet foods, such as fish and other more novel proteins, are not readily available in organic form, and simply finding enough organic ingredients can be problematic for pet food makers seeking entry into the organic segment.
  • High prices: As anyone who has purchased human organic food products knows, organic products cost more. Higher quality ingredients mean higher prices, and pet food companies may be gun-shy about marketing what could amount to a super-superpremium product price-wise.
  • Organic regulations: With no firm federal mandate dictating what constitutes an organic pet food, pet food marketers seeking to use the organic label must adhere to human organic food standards. Rather than face regulatory scrutiny, pet food marketers may instead decide that it’s easier to label a product “natural” and call it a day.

There are signs, however, that at least some of the challenges facing organic pet food may soon be remedied, Packaged Facts explains in the new report "Natural, Organic, and Eco-Friendly Pet Products in the U.S., 6th Edition."

There are signs that organic pet food standards are moving through the approval process in the National Organic Program, the firm states. Additionally, demand from the human side of the market has been prompting more interest in organic agriculture and manufacturing practices, possibly increasing the supply of organic products.

Packaged Facts believes that as the obstacles to organic pet food diminish, the likelihood that organic will become the next big trend in natural pet food increases significantly. On the human side, retailers Kroger and Costco have begun investing in farms to ensure long-term supply of store-brand organic products, and under Nestlé Purina, Merrick’s well-established organic brand, Castor & Pollux, has gained access to the resources of one of the world's largest pet food producers.

"As natural pet food marketers seek to distinguish themselves from the rest of the natural pack, offering organic options may soon become a next logical step," Packaged Facts states.

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