Supplements aren’t just for people anymore. The pet supplement market has grown with the human supplement market, as those who purchase these products decide that their pets can benefit from them as well. Humans increasingly consider their pets to be members of the family. An example of this is that pet owners are no longer just concerned with feeding their pets, but with the quality of food as well. As pet owners turn to foods that are natural, free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and organic, it’s not very surprising that supplements have followed. This might not be a completely new market, but it is one that is expected to explode along with the general supplement industry, with an expected compound annual growth rate of five percent from 2018-2022.1
Moreover, the pet market in general is growing as younger people adopt pets. Nearly half of pet owners are now under 40, and this trend is likely to continue in years to come. The good news for any company that makes pet products is that these younger owners are more likely to spend excessive amounts of money on their pets. Since price isn’t a deterrent to this group, companies can afford to invest in research and development, more natural ingredients, and biodegradable packaging while recouping their investments with premium pricing.
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What happens in the human supplement world affects pet supplements. As certain ingredients become popular in human supplements, they tend to cross over into supplements for animals. A perfect example of this is cannabidiol (CBD) products. Since there’s the possibility that humans may benefit from substances derived from cannabis or hemp, pet supplements have expanded to include it as well.2
Clean labels have also become a trend in the animal supplement industry. As with human supplements, there are plenty of brands that have artificial flavors and colors, gluten and GMO ingredients, so brands that can distinguish themselves with simple ingredients and sustainability will do well. The problem, as pointed out by one expert, is that providing higher-quality supplements requires higher-quality, and usually more expensive, ingredients.2 To turn a profit while providing these supplements, brands must focus their marketing on the superior product and mold the consumer perception accordingly.
As with supplements for humans, supplements for pets should have clinical research backing them up, and the more research the better. This does present a significant problem for those brands that have animals’ best interests at heart. Research in human supplements is a bit simpler because, while there are some variations with how different genders and age groups respond to different ingredients, the research is at least only done on one species. This is the complete opposite for pets. Supplements for dogs, cats, birds, reptiles, etc. all need to have separate research performed on that specific species, especially when it comes to dose. This is further complicated among breeds, where a weight difference means that the therapeutic dose for one breed could be a harmful dose for another.3 Clinical studies can greatly reduce the risks by investigating the optimal amounts of a supplement for each species and breed while also examining any detrimental side effects of a dose that is too large for a certain weight range.
There was a time when pet supplements were the specialty of only a few nutraceutical companies. This is no longer the case. So, how does a nutraceutical company go about differentiating itself from the myriad of choices that consumers now have? A lot of it comes down to innovation and being first to market. Of these, getting to market first can be the most challenging. Pet supplements don’t have to go through the same regulatory process as pet pharmaceuticals, but they do still have to follow current good manufacturing processes (CGMPs). Complying with these takes time and a whole lot of paperwork, which significantly slows down your efforts to get product to market. Part of the problem is that the department responsible for ensuring CGMPs have been followed and the department responsible for making the product are disconnected.
The divide between quality and manufacturing can cost nutraceutical companies a lot. Especially when doing a thorough quality review means that products sit on the manufacturing floor, sometimes for weeks, before finally being shipped out the door. Overcoming this problem means seriously rethinking your manufacturing operations management. The best way to do this is to get rid of paper and digitize your systems.
Pet supplements have gained momentum this year and it’s safe to assume more nutraceutical companies will branch out in 2020. Forward-thinking companies realize that with so much competition in this industry, efficiency is everything. Manufacturing quality control software helps you beat your competitors to market and ensures that you’re following regulations. For those who are just breaking into the pet supplement market, manufacturing quality control systems will help you simplify your existing processes as you adapt to making products for pets. This industry is set to grow so much that the investment in digitizing will be well worth it.