In the Latin American pet food industry, the question arises to what extent COVID-19 bans have changed the nutritional needs of pets or what requirements pet owners perceive as requirements. Internet search results can help provide some answers.
Given that the lockdowns reduced the number of visits to veterinarians and, more importantly, that veterinary practices had to be temporarily closed, dog owners became increasingly concerned about the nutrition and wellbeing of their pets. And with the boom in online shopping during childbirth, pet owners have made more internet searches for an important new ingredient in pet food: probiotics.
Increasing search for probiotics related to the health and wellbeing of dogs
According to a LinkedIn post from Lumina Intelligence, a UK company specializing in food, beverage and nutrition market insights, the lockdown has two implications for consumers as they transition into the online shopping environment. On the one hand, established users of probiotics for dogs, who normally get them from their vets, appeared to be trying to source their probiotics online instead. On the flip side, as people spent more time with their pets during the lockdowns, the wellbeing and problems of getting rid of pets became of paramount importance.
Lumina said searches for “probiotics for dogs with diarrhea” increased between March and September 2020 in both English and Spanish. “The inconvenience of being cooped up with a diarrhea pooch indoors means consumers are quickly turning to the online probiotic space in search of a cure and that trend has been greatly accelerated by COVID,” said the LinkedIn Contribution from Lumina.
Ewa Hudson, Director of Insights at Lumina added that Spanish-language searches for probiotics worldwide averaged 4,400 per month worldwide. Mexico led the search with 29.1%, followed by Spain with 22.5%, Colombia with 14.5% and Chile with 13.8%. According to Hudson, Spanish-language searches from the US were registered at 4.8%, while other countries combined hit 15.3%.
How will pet food manufacturers respond to more probiotic searches?
Currently, only a small fraction of dog and cat food products contain probiotics at any price. In Mexico, for example, these include brands such as Prime Nutrition, Choice Nutrition, Vital Pro, Campi Can and Zoopreme Cat, all of which are made by Campi Alimentos. Or Tier from Pronua and Hi-Pro from Albapesa.
It is still unclear to what extent other manufacturers will join the probiotics wave with their pet food formulations. One thing is certain, though: pet owners have gained a deeper knowledge of their pets’ nutritional needs during childbirth, a factor that is likely to influence and influence the next trends in pet food demand.
Iván Franco is the founder of Triplethree International and has worked on hundreds of research projects for various consumer goods industries. He was named Global Consultant of the Year by Euromonitor International and authored the book 17 Market Strategies for Growth (in Spanish).