Natural choices top pet product trends
A national survey of 1,000 pet owners indicated that natural pet products feature in two of the top four trends, according to Pet Business?s 2004 Retailer Handbook. Responses showed a 63 percent interest in natural pet foods/treats and a 59 percent interest in natural cat litter. In addition, Marketing Intelligence Services Ltd., which tracks product introductions, says the number of natural and organic pet products (food and nonfood) has been growing. 2002 saw 132 natural and organic pet products on the shelves; by November 2004 there were 452. Packaged Facts, a market research company, predicts strong growth in 2005.

Seal can equal quality for pet supplements
The National Animal Supplements Council, a group dedicated to protecting the health of companion animals and horses, has advanced the credibility of pet supplements by implementing standards to help retailers and customers identify reputable products. As part of its effort to improve and standardize the pet supplement industry, NASC began a Quality Seal Program. The program allows manufacturers that meet the organization?s standards and pass an independent audit to use the seal on their supplements. NASC quality seals began appearing on products in late 2004.

Banish bad breath
Do you have customers who are tired of almost being knocked over when their favorite pooch or kitty looks at them lovingly and then breathes in their face? A spate of new products will be available in 2005 to tackle that problem. According to Packaged Facts, a market research firm, 56 new products that mirror trends in human oral care—breath strips, wipes, sprays, swabs and electric toothbrushes—have, or will soon, hit the market. A recent Packaged Facts report, ?Market Trends: Oral Care Products for Pets? shows that the category has grown about 35 percent per year since 2000.

Sit Sam, Stay Sandy
Dogs used to be named for physical or personality traits—think Spot, Bear, Lucky or Fido (from Latin for faithful). But now, human names have gone to the dogs. Of the top 50 dog names in the United States, 38 are suitable for people. Max is the No. 1 name for dogs; Maggie comes in at No. 4, but it?s the most popular name for female dogs. Experts speculate that the change in dog names can be linked to the humanization of pets. And because pets are increasingly treated as family members, the demand for luxury products and services is on the rise.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXVI/number 9/p. 76, 80