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It’s official! After many months of planning, the Pet Treat Line at this year’s Process Expo (Oct 23-25 in Chicago) is a go.

I swear, with each planning session of the group of exhibitors involved in building this, a new innovation pops up to be incorporated into the line and demonstrations. One month, it’s AI for production monitoring and predictive maintenance. Next month, it’s additional automation capabilities to highlight other data monitoring to aid in the production process. In this latest call, it was recyclable plastics in the packaging for these treats. In short, when our live demonstrations begin on Monday, October 23rd, I expect we will have the absolute very latest in technology both on the production side as well as packaging and material handling.

Given what’s going on in this industry sector, that doesn’t surprise me in the least. Pet Food continues to grow by leaps and bounds, with the global market projected to grow by nearly 28% over the next four years to $6.4B according to the 2023 FPSA Food Processing/Packaging Equipment Global Forecast. In fact, a recent article in Pet Food Processing Magazine points out three trends that I expect to be contributing to this growth. These are continued increases in pet adoption rates, humanization of pets, and further expansion of e-commerce in pet food sales. As someone who goes home every night to three dogs, I can confirm having a hand in all three of those trends!

Of course, for anyone already working in this segment, this is not news. They see it every day. In fact, just last week, Pet Food Processing had another piece on the technological investments companies are making to expand operations to meet consumer demand. In fact, the article points out that $1.5B was invested in the space of just seven months (December 2022 to June 2023). As one of these consumers contributing to the demand in this segment, I assure you it’s not kibble we’re talking about. Not that there is anything wrong with kibble … Lord knows I’ve lost count of all the dogs my family has raised on it, but it’s a different industry now.

Just like with our own food, we are now able to purchase a wide variety of products that have wellness benefits that I don’t mind spending a little bit more on (ok, sometimes it’s a little bit more than “little”). In short, it’s an exciting time to be in the pet food industry given the innovations we are seeing on a continual basis. The participating companies in this line are serious contributors to these advances thanks to the technical expertise they bring to the table.

That might be said about all of the exhibitors at Process Expo, not just the participants in this line. With over 20 years in this industry, I still learn something new each show as I walk down the aisle. That statement can be applied to the pet food industry, or any of the others that this show caters to. In fact, that is true in more ways than one, with some technologies on display for a particular segment, yet having applications in another that was not initially thought of when originally designed.

Either way, we continue to move forward, and as a consumer, I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Andy Drennan, FPSA SVP