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At the end of 2020, we looked back at some of our favorite discoveries of the year in some of the sectors we serve. In this final post of the series, we look at the pet and animal category to find innovative and disruptive brands leading the way in 2020.

As it changed so many things, the COVID-19 pandemic changed the pet industry. If the changes were not so drastic as in other industries, they were nonetheless meaningful. Increased time at home led to a huge increase in rescue pet adoptions, bringing new consumers into the market for pet products, seeking items to meet the needs of their new pets. Shopping for pet products, as with other sectors, moved dramatically toward online purchasing through Chewy and Amazon, a trend we tracked and documented through our proprietary research conducted this summer.

In what follows, we examine five new products that address these and other trends in an exciting way, making them some of our favorites of the year.

herbal cat litter packaging - innovative and disruptive brand of 2020

Naturally Fresh Herbal Attraction Litter

With so many consumers welcoming new rescue pets into their homes, solutions for puppy or litter box training were a major trend of the year. Naturally Fresh’s Herbal Attraction litter is our favorite new item in this space, offering an eco-friendly cat litter infused with calming herbs to attract and soothe cats who might find the litter box intimidating.

Though attractive to cats, the litter’s herbal aromas are undetectable to their human counterparts. The litter is made from walnut shells, a sustainable agricultural byproduct that naturally neutralizes odors. It is biodegradable, sustainably grown certified, annually renewable, and solar power produced. With no silica dust, the litter won’t find its way around the house or produce harmful chemical dust. In addition to availability for online ordering, Naturally Fresh’s products are distributed nationally through the major chains as well as farm and feed stores and independent pet retailers.

ellevet supplement packaging - innovative and disruptive brands of 2020

ElleVet CBD Supplements

With anxiety a major topic of concern in human health, soothing anxious pets has also proved to be a major trend of 2020 in pet productsElleVet Sciences offers veterinarian-formulated products to address pet anxiety by employing CBD, an ingredient that is likewise on-trend for human health. Backed by research out of Cornell University, ElleVet claims to offer the only clinically backed CBD and CBDA pet products, including chews, soft gels, and oils in doses for dogs and cats alike. The brand also offers a low cost per dose relative to many competitors. With a strong digital marketing presence including pet parent testimonials, this is a pet supplement brand we expect to see much more of in the future.

Starmark Treat Dispensing Roulette Wheel

Established pet training brand Starmark launched a compelling new product for those consumers seeking to train newly rescued pets with its new Treat Dispensing Roulette Wheel. The toy requires pets to push down on the top of the toy to spin it and dispense dry kibble or a treat. Offering easy and hard settings, the roulette wheel gives pets mental stimulation as well as enables pet parents to reinforce portion control in a playful manner. Pets who eat too fast can be fed consistently from the roulette wheel in order to keep them active as well as to slow down their consumption.

Brilliant Salmon Oil

Another new supplement that stood out to us this year was Brilliant Salmon Oil, a single-ingredient, human-grade product with a range of health benefits for dogs. The natural, unrefined product enhances the health of a dog’s coat and paws while boosting energy and appetite by delivering Omega-3, Omega-6, and Omega-9 fatty acids. With a sustainable and fully traceable production process, Brilliant Salmon Oil is also a product that eco-conscious pet parents can feel good about giving their pets. With clean, modern packaging and branding and additional supplements from the brand on their way, we expect to see increased retail distribution of this product in the near term and growing popularity among pet parents.

Caru Pet Food Daily Dish Bone Broths

Caru Pet Food offers a range of pet foods and treats that are vet-formulated from human-grade, non-GMO ingredients. Their new line of savory bone broths for dogs and cats caught our attention as a distinctive product format with strong health and wellness claims and a connection for consumers who may enjoy the health benefits of bone broth themselves.

The line of broths, which presently includes products made from grass-fed beef and free-range chicken, features Tetra-Pak packaging containers, much like a premium ready-made soup. This creates less waste and greater convenience in storage and use. They have whole-food ingredients like celery, carrots, and apple cider vinegar, and deliver a high dose of protein along with naturally occurring chondroitin sulfate and collagen. The products can be used as a treat or a meal topper, providing particular benefits in persuading picky eaters to consume their meals. Widely available at independent pet stores, we expect to see sales and distribution growth for Caru in the coming year.

Building Innovative + Disruptive Brands

Are you launching a product that should be on this list? Seeking to grow your pet or animal brand to take advantage of new opportunities in 2021? We’d love to hear about the challenges and opportunities you’re facing—let’s get in touch.

Matt Miller staff photo
Matt Miller writes, teaches, and practices biodynamic gardening near Reeds Spring, Missouri. A MarketPlace alum with a background in academic research, he’s fascinated with how culture, media, and business interact—and equally with the best methods of cultivating healthy fruit trees.