Five key trends capturing the four-legged pound

* 3 min read

Pets aren’t just animals; they’re part of our families. Here, creative account director Kate Fischer looks at the latest trends in pet food packaging and how brands and retailers are using this emotional connection to get their products into your basket.

Be honest; do you say you’re your pet’s Mummy or Daddy? Do you have as many pictures of them on your phone as you do of your actual kids?

You’re not alone.

With 8.5m dogs and 7.4m cats in the UK alone, four-legged consumers have got some serious buying power. And these days, we’re not happy to feed them just any old pet food. We’re shopping for them based on what we’d look for ourselves.

At Sun Branding, we keep a close eye on the pet category, as it’s one where we’ve had lots of experience delivering innovative solutions for our clients. It’s an interesting area, as it’s one of the few categories where the customer is not the end consumer, so hitting the right spot with your packaging really is a fine balance. 

So here are the top five trends we’ve seen working well across branded and own-brand pet:

#1. Humanise and premiumise

Most dogs would happily eat whatever they could find in the bin, so even if they could read, they wouldn’t care about whether their biscuits were gluten free or their beef chunks were British. So the brands that are highlighting performance, luxury and quality ingredients in the products are very much capitalising on the owners’ need to do the very best for their pet, giving them the very best they can afford.

#2. Be good, be natural

Maybe it’s a knock on effect from our increasing need to know what goes in to our own food – whether it’s gluten-free, organic or locally-sourced - but natural ingredients and labelling transparency are a major focus these days. As we learn more and more about the food we eat, we seem to want the same reassurance for our pets too*.

#3. Happy and healthy

Many brands focus on individual health needs or life stages to give owners the confidence that they’re getting exactly what they need from their diets. Photography showing happy pets bounding through meadows, with ingredient shots or clean, scientific designs clearly communicating exactly what it is about the product that’ll do your pet good.

#4. Food appeal

Dog food served up on plates, lit beautifully to give it real appetite appeal. Simple ingredient photography that heroes natural ingredients. Some pet food brands present their product as if it’s good enough to eat yourself, and this is a natural progression from the way we shop for our own meals.

#5. Back to nature

This is fairly niche, but we’ve seen one UK pet food company that’s appealing to pets’ wild side, focusing on how it appeals to their instinctive behaviours rather than their nutritional or emotional needs. It might not be the most palatable for owners, but again, it taps into that need to give our pets the best thing for them.

 *And if you need help navigating pet food labelling legislation, why not give our legal team a call?

 Want to know more about our pet insight and how we can help build your brand? Email us at or call 01274 202382.