A Purr-fect Visit to Global Pet Expo

Many of our readers have recently returned from the annual mega-event, Natural Products Expo West 2019. All of us who attended have the same notion of “I survived.” Expo West is so incredibly large, and the energy required to meet all of one’s own expectations is equally large. An excellent recap can be found in Len’s musings from the show.

It is for all those reasons and more that I experienced so much enjoyment this past week attending Global Pet Expo in Orland. It is the pet industry’s equivalent to Expo West. The show promoters and attendees consistently commented on how “big” the Pet Expo is becoming with 1,000 exhibitors and 17,000 people. My thoughts to that statement were simultaneously, “if you only knew” and “this is nice!”. I had never attended this event, so I had nothing but pharmaceutical and nutritional industry experiences to compare.

On a topline note, the pace and tone of the Global Pet Expo is noticeably different. Takeaways from the event:

  1. Size: it was possible to see from one end of the exhibits to the other making navigation and expectations to be more easily achieved. 
  2. Hemp/CBD were the most prevalent ingredients being offered. Just like at Natural Products Expo, claims and benefits flowed more freely than ever. Science ghosted.
  3. The variety of products was exciting, and it was clear to me that innovation and sustainability are just as important to the pet industry as it is to the natural products industry. One new innovation commanding attention was the first ever Coconut Clumping Cat Litter made from 100% coconut. 
  4. While mega-booths existed, such as those from Blue Buffalo, Nestle, Central Pet, etc., most of the booths were smaller with some creative designs

  5. Pets on leashes were prevalent. Dogs, cats, lizards and more were found to be escorted by buyers as well as “manning” the booths. 

  6. Pet adoption seemed to be supported with a few sponsors, as well as several pet shelters offering adoption services. I saw no breeders exhibiting but did manage to talk with a couple who were attending. 

  7. There was enough room on the show floor to allow an 8-person golf cart to shuttle people who requested a ride around the show floor. 

  8. The range of pets included on the show floor was surprising. In addition to the cats and dogs, rats, snakes, reptiles of all sorts, gerbils, guinea pigs, fish and more were in various booths. No reports of escapees were circulated. 

  9. The loudest exhibit was a small booth selling live crickets. Armstrong’s Cricket Farm has been proudly growing crickets for sale since 1947. Their “manufacturing” plants are located in Georgia and Louisiana with 135,000 and 90,000 sq. ft of facility respectively. This conversation led to an education on how to tell male crickets from female and the fact that Asia is the fastest growing market for crickets for both processed and live consumption. 

  10. A Chinese Pavilion existed but was only two small rows in length was comprised of distributors and hard good manufacturers of products like leashes, collars and litter boxes. There were no ingredients, finished products or ingestibles. The international presence in total is much smaller than at Expo West or Supply Side West. 

It was fun seeing an industry that is more similar than different from what I am accustomed to yet provided a depth of dissimilarity. This experience was the business equivalent of traveling to another part of the world for the primary purpose of seeing a different culture. Most importantly, I was reminded of the joy and excitement one can achieve when one steps away from the familiar and looks through a lens of fresh perspective. All these lessons can be applied to any industry veteran anywhere. Try this exercise sometime to see for yourself the feelings of excitement and joy a new perspective can bring.