LAS VEGAS — In speaking with exhibitors across the SUPERZOO 2023 show floor, the overarching sentiment was: It’s good to be back. After a tumultuous start to the new decade, this year’s pet industry event represented a “return to normal” with a crowd rivaling that of pre-COVID days. Products seen across the hall and in the New Product Showcase reflected thriving innovation from pet food and treat brands, and these brands are putting all their chips into functionality and sustainability.
SUPERZOO 2023 gathered at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center from Aug. 16 through 18, showcasing innovative products, topical and informative education, dazzling grooming competitions and countless networking opportunities. The sold-out show welcomed nearly 18,000 pet professionals — a 10% increase over 2022 — from 84 countries and 50 states, according to the World Pet Association (WPA). Among them were over 10,000 key decision makers, representing a 6% increase from the previous year.
“This year’s SUPERZOO surpassed our highest expectations, reaffirming its status as the definitive event for the pet retail community,” said Mike Karsting, senior vice president for WPA. “The enthusiasm displayed by attendees, exhibitors and industry leaders alike was truly remarkable. We are thrilled to have fostered an environment where connections were forged, ideas were shared and the pet industry’s vibrant future was charted.”
Spanning over 330,000 square feet, the show floor featured more than 1,100 exhibitors. Exhibitors had the opportunity to display their innovation in specialized areas throughout the show floor including Emerging Brands, Natural and Health, Specialty and Lifestyle, Farm and Feed, Aquatics, Birds, Reptiles and Small Animals, Groomer’s Marketplace, and the International Pavilion.
More than 1,058 debut products took the spotlight at the New Product Showcase. The popular section highlights innovative advancements and visionary ideas transforming the pet industry. A panel of industry experts assessed each entry and awarded first-place winners and runners-up in 10 product categories, as well as one Judges Award for the Best New-to-Market Pet Product.
View the full list of New Product Showcase winners on the SUPERZOO website here.
In addition to a robust New Product Showcase, the Pet Innovation Awards, an independent platform that recognizes the most innovative companies, products and services within the pet care industry, announced the winners of its fifth annual awards program during the show on Aug. 17. Among them were several pet food and treat companies, including Vital Essentials for Dog Treat Alternative Product of the Year, Solid Gold for Cat Food Wet Product of the Year, Yummy Combs for Dog Dental Treat Product of the Year, Zesty Paws for Cat Digestive Product of the Year, and Go! Solutions by Petcurean for Pet Food Solution of the Year.
Also during the show, Leap Venture Studio hosted its SUPERZOO Pitch Competition in partnership with Black Pet Business Network, where five BIPOC founders in the pet care industry pitched their businesses in front of a live audience and panel of judges. Two of these founders’ businesses are focused on the pet nutrition category — D.R.E.A.M Pet Food and 5 Element Food Therapy.
Pet Food Processing editors walked the show floor each day and met with a number of brands to learn more about their latest and greatest pet food and treat products. Looking back on what we learned, two major trends stood out — functionality and sustainability. Continue reading for specific examples of each of these trends seen on the SUPERZOO 2023 show floor.
Format meets function
A stroll around the New Product Showcase section of SUPERZOO 2023 quickly revealed the focus many brands had on functional ingredients. Regardless of the product format — dry or wet food, complete and balanced, supplements or treats — processors are providing pet parents with additional functionality beyond basic nutrition.
Nature’s Logic showcased its Biscuits with Benefits line at the New Product Showcase. The treats for dogs come in three flavors — Calming Support with peanut butter, Skin & Coat Care with salmon, and Healthy Digestion with lamb meal.
Pet n’ Shapes functional treats offer pet parents Skin & Coat Support, Hip & Joint Support, Immune Support and Calming Support. Healthfuls also featured functional treats in the New Product Showcase to help with common mobility, digestion and cognitive concerns in dogs.
Function was the headliner at Brit’s SUPERZOO booth this year as well. Specialty ingredients deliver the functional benefits in this line of treats. Its Mobility dental chews contain collagen and curcuma; the Calm variety contains hemp and motherwort; Teeth and Gums contains chamomile and sage; and Immuno contains probiotics and cinnamon.
Functional products were also plentiful on the cat side of the New Product Showcase. Raw Dynamic showcased its bone broth for cats which were designed to support and maintain the health of the feline’s microbiome. The product can be a meal topper, a meal re-hydrator, or a snack.
Pet Honesty introduced its crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside cat treats that come in the company’s five functional varieties — Multivitamins, Hairball Support, Hip & Joint Health, Calming Support and Immune Support with Lysine.
These products don’t even scratch the surface of new functional products seen across the SUPERZOO 2023 show floor or in the industry at large. Find a more comprehensive picture of recently launched functional pet foods, treats and supplements here.
There’s no shortage of companies in the pet food industry seeking to set and achieve sustainability goals. The quest for a sustainable mission can be seen both through the ingredients and materials processors use to produce their products and the packaging in which they choose to present those products to consumers. This messaging was seen throughout the SUPERZOO show floor.
While most exhibitors at SUPERZOO are pet food brands themselves, a few packaging companies chose to use the show as a platform to share their sustainability initiatives.
ProAmpac shared its mission to offer a sustainable alternative for 100% of its products by 2025. The company offers a full range of flexible packaging capabilities including recycle-ready, recyclable, post-consumer recycled and compostable options for pet food and treats.
Vietnam-based Thanh Phu Plastic Packaging Co. also exhibited for the first time at SUPERZOO to share its sustainable packaging offerings with pet food processing partners.
“Recycle, reuse, reduce are the driving forces behind packaging and equipment innovation,” said Alex Dam, executive vice president of Thanh Phu. “Making stronger recyclable films, working with brand owners to assess their true needs vs. what is available. Making sure that a package meets the brand owners’ specifications without being overpackaged.”
On the ingredient side, ADM shared its mission toward sustainability through its investment in Innovafeed, a producer of insect ingredients for animal feed and pet food. InnovaFeed’s proprietary technology reproduces the natural lifecycle of the black soldier fly on an industrial scale in automated indoor farms utilizing a circular, zero-waste model. The partnership includes the construction of the world’s largest insect protein production site in Decatur, Ill., located alongside ADM’s corn processing complex.
Pet Sustainability Coalition (PSC) celebrated its 10th anniversary during the show with a networking celebration with members and partners. Founded in 2013 by eight companies, PSC now serves more than 170 member companies across the pet industry, helping them to progress on their sustainability practices, set goals, and report on their achievements.
During the show, PSC highlighted its latest group of top performers. Included on the list of top performers are: Ahlstrom, Aker Biomarine / QRILL, Canna Companion, dsm-firmenich & Veramaris, Fera Pet Organics, Mondi Jackson, LLC, Petcurean, Portland Pet Food Company, TC Transcontinental Packaging and West Paw.
“The PSC Accreditation exists for those companies who go above and beyond with their sustainability performance,” according to PSC. “They are ready to share a transparent and third-party verified assessment of their impact with their stakeholders and are committed to continuous improvement. Accredited companies align their sustainability practices with the globally recognized Sustainable Development Goals. Alignment with these goals ensures that companies are working toward outcomes that are universally recognized as optimal and can be tracked and measured for desired impact.”
Anticipation for SUPERZOO 2024 has already started following this year’s successful gathering. Next year’s event has been scheduled for Aug. 14 through 16 back in Las Vegas, with education sessions beginning Aug. 13. Stay tuned for more coverage of the 2023 show, and for more details about SUPERZOO 2024 later on.
Read more about new product launches and happenings from SUPERZOO 2023.