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  • 08 Feb 2018

Satisfying the pet food market

Natures Menu’s label and packaging requirements extend from translation labels, flexible packaging, and pre-made pouches to folding cartons

The world is full of animal lovers. The UK pet population stands at around 54 million with 44 percent of households having pets, according to the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association. The US pet food market is expected to top 30 billion USD in 2022, with a CAGR of 3.36 percent between 2017 and 2022, according to Zion Market Research.

In Asia-Pacific, pet food and related products are predicted to be worth 17 billion USD in 2022, according to Euromonitor International, with dog and cat food representing 72 percent of the total pet care market in the region at that time. China will show the strongest CAGR value during the 2017-2022 period at 21 percent. Product launches in Asia are expected to prioritize quality and ingredients, with premiumization to be more prominent in 2022. 

This is reflected in labels and packaging. ‘Producers are investing in high-quality artwork as they know that their label represents their brand and therefore must work effectively as a marketing tool,’ says Vicky Waine, sales and marketing manager at printer PeterLynn. 

Raw feeding – the practice of feeding domestic dogs and cats a diet of uncooked meat, edible bones and organs – is one segment of the pet food market working towards premium labels and packaging. Waine sees raw feeding ‘exploding, much in the same way as microbrewing has’, adding: ‘As it is a more expensive, premium choice, the market is looking for more unusual specifications and materials. Similarly to craft beverages, the market has become flooded so they are looking for ways to stand out, using special materials, foils and textured varnishes.’ 

Natures Menu is a UK specialist in raw and natural pet food. Its label and packaging requirements extend from labels, flexible packaging and pre-made pouches, to folding cartons. Rachel Ashforth, purchasing and planning manager at Natures Menu, comments: ‘[We] use multiple suppliers specializing in each area across the UK and Europe, according to what’s required. Due to the nature of our product here at Natures Menu, we require freezer stable, barrier proof material. The quality of our packaging is of utmost importance in terms of ensuring the material stays intact during the freezing process, whilst maintaining a correct and stand-out look for the brand. Clarity of printing is also key in order to maintain brand identity and display ingredients clearly.’ 

Supply chain investment 
Developments along the supply chain provide specific characteristics applicable to the pet food market. Uflex has launched Flexpet F-PGB-12, a super barrier polyester film offering enhanced oxygen transmission rate (OTR) properties. Toray Plastics (America) has developed the Lumirror MK61HB and PA1HB barrier coated polyester films, offering oxygen, moisture and aroma barrier protection. Sun Chemical and acpo extending their joint offering for flexible packaging converting also has relevance to the pet food market. These products combine acpo’s self-wound films and Sun Chemical’s SunBar Aerobloc oxygen barrier coatings. The companies said this allows any label printer with a lamination unit to print and convert these films into pouches, bags or roll stock, for packaging oxygen-sensitive products, such as pet food. 

Ashland has received US patent 9,539,795 for its PureKote 23589 dispersion and PureKote 21412A cross-linking agent coating system. The technology tandem creates a coating for flexible packaging that is water and scuff resistant. It also improves consumer appeal with soft-touch feel and matte finish. PureKote coating is said to be suitable for packaging used on foods and pet foods labeled natural or organic. 

Comexi’s S1 MS slitter rewinder has a new mono-shaft system that allows work with large reels of paper, cardboard, self-adhesive tapes, aluminum, BOPP and other laminated materials that have a certain degree of rigidity or won’t easily stretch with tension, such as the materials used for pet food. 

US converter AWT Labels & Packaging has installed a 52in 10-color W&H Miraflex CI flexo press to grow its complex film structure business in existing market segments and expand into the pet foods and gourmet coffee segments.


David Pittman is deputy editor at Labels & Labeling.

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