While many industries struggle with economic and market challenges, a new report from CRB finds that pet food manufacturers are racing to add capacity to meet consumer demand for high-quality products, driven by “the humanization of pet food.” 

Even as supply chain risks, labor shortages and rising costs present challenges, CRB’s newest Horizons report finds established companies and startups alike are chasing consumers who increasingly demand the food they feed their pets matches the quality and manufacturing standards of food they’d feed themselves.

The report, released today as a free download by CRB—a provider of sustainable engineering, architecture, construction and consulting solutions to the food and beverage and life sciences industries—is built on the survey responses of 300 pet food manufacturing leaders. Horizons features analysis by CRB’s corps of subject matter experts who share insights on issues ranging from the sourcing of alternative proteins and adapting processes for sustainability, efficiency and quality, to embracing integrated project delivery solutions that raise capacity without sacrificing quality or schedule.

“At stake is nothing less than a projected $275 billion, the expected annual value placed on the pet food industry by 2030,” Tim Barba, CRB’s chief operating officer, Global Technical Operations, writes in the report’s opening passages. “To get their share, manufacturers are feverishly expanding and modernizing their production capacity, exploring new segments, and aligning their products with the qualities prized by ingredient-conscious consumers.”

Among the report’s insights are:

Product innovation. Pet food manufacturers face the difficult task of balancing premium formulations with acceptable selling prices, expanding beyond bulk kibble and experimenting with alternative ingredients. CRB experts examine these shifts and offer solutions for manufacturers unsure of their next steps.  

Processing. Process teams are embracing innovation to find new ways to optimize existing methods. The report examines this quest for getting more from every piece of equipment. 

Project execution. More than half of Horizons survey respondents plan to embrace integrated project delivery to address automation and sustainability in pet food plant design.  

Packaging. While respondents have prioritized packaging as their top capital expense objective for the next five years, how can they ensure the investments will address rapidly changing market conditions? 

Operational improvements and efficiencies. The report provides practical insights for pet food manufacturers as they seek to align capital spending strategies with operational goals while future-proofing operations.  

Quality and safety. Pet food manufacturing is setting new standards for all food manufacturing regarding quality and safety. The report looks at this trend and how it will impact the future of a maturing pet food industry.  

Sustainability. While companies strive to hit net-zero goals quickly, how they achieve them is unclear. Whether driven by retail requirements or consumer demands, the report investigates why barriers and myths must be eliminated to achieve progress. 

“It’s fascinating to see how the massive adoption of pets in the United States during the pandemic transformed the pet food industry. Despite inflation and other challenges, consumers are seeking high-quality foods for their pets who are treated like family members,” says Jason Robertson, vice president of Food and Beverage at CRB. 

Visit CRB's website to download the report.