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As I start to care more about my own health, I've also become more interested in what my German Shorthaired Pointers are consuming too.

Over the past several years, I've gone from essentially not caring what they eat, to serving them a grain-free diet with protein. I also give them a salmon oil supplement for their heart and coat.

But what this really means is that I've tripled what I spend annually on food for my two pups, Ollie and Switch. And I'm not alone—I've seen a similar trend with my friends and fellow dog parents. 

Josh Hatton with his pupsBlog author Josh Hatton with his wife Amie and his two German Shorthaired Pointers, Ollie (left) and Switch.

There's a correlation between my personal life and how I treat and feed my dogs. For example, I'm a powerlifter and I keep a close eye on how I eat by tracking macro nutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fats) and trying to eat healthier food options. My fridge is stocked mostly by the outer aisles of the grocery store with lean protein, clean carbohydrates, healthy fats and produce. The result? My grocery bill has increased substantially. Unfortunately, eating healthy seems to come at a cost and the same is true with my fur babies.

According to the American Pet Products Association, or the APPA, the food market has nearly doubled for pets over the last decade to an estimated $31.68 billion —yes, billion with a "B"in 2019, compared to an actual spend of $17.56 billion in 2009. This is staggering growth, about 4 or 5 percent annually per the APPA.

That means pet food companies are growing too. Just like health and wellness trends for humans, we're starting to see similar branding for our four legged friends: gluten-free, organic—even dog treats so "clean" humans can eat them!

Like any food processor, distributor or manufacturer, this calls for digitization and technology. 

Pet food producers have similar standards, regulations and demands as good 'ol human food companies. What’s more telling, is that in this growing market, pet food producers are looking into various digitization efforts to maintain QC standards, track and trace, bar coding, labeling, batch scheduling and the creation of co- and by-products.

The last line item, co- and by-products, which I have written about on the blog before, seems to be quite important to this industry. Converting by-products to various doggie treats and goodies to be consumed instead of converted to waste is certainly top-of-mind for manufacturing firms.

Another important module we use in our ColumbusFood application that's applicable to this market is track and trace, which helps manage unforeseen recalls and helps mitigate risk when the unthinkable does happenbecause it does, from time to time.

We're not alone in recognizing the pet food industry's demand for ERP services like ours. This year at Process Expo 2019, the global food equipment and technology show, is adding pet food processing to its lineup. And our ColumbusFood team will actually be there!

If you're attending Process Expo too, come say hi—even if it's just to show us photos of your own pets, we'd love to meet you. We'll be at Booth #1568.

Use our code for a free conference pass.

Oh, and if you’re curious, I buy my dogs the Blue Buffalo Wilderness Denali Wild Salmon. It's healthy and they can't get enough! 

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Above and below: Ollie (left) and Switch (right)

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