As the pace of change in animal health increases, you might wonder, “Where are we going?”

The future of the industry is closely tied to the future of people and animals. The United Nations expects the world’s human population to reach almost 10 billion by 2050.  Many of these 2 billion new people will consume animal protein or bring pets into their families.

Shifting to  animal protein signals prosperity in many cultures. As GDP rises across the world, people tend to replace some of their plant-based dietary protein with beef, pork, poultry or dairy products.

Affluence also increases pet ownership. The growth of China’s middle class has led to a 300% increase in pet ownership since 2013. Other countries with growing economies and an emerging middle class are expected to follow similar patterns.

At Brakke Consulting, we see several trends driving the future of animal health in both pet ownership and food production.

New technologies

Smart tags that can track an individual animal’s health among vast herds. Using satellites to predict the spread of weather-influenced diseases and parasites. Apps that monitor a beloved cat’s diabetes. Telehealth visits with veterinarians. Thermal imaging to identify horses at risk of overheating in competition. Some of these products already exist; others are coming soon. Technology will improve animal food production, make equine sports safer and help us take better care of our pets.

My pet, my family, and me

Our appreciation for  the human-animal bond’s effect on quality of life – our pets’ and ours – will continue to grow in importance. Keeping pets happy and healthy and treating them as part of the family will become more of a focus for everyone, not just veterinarians and pet owners. The move to more remote working, allowing our cats to take over our meetings, will enhance this trend. Make room for Tigger, the new meeting facilitator!

New treatments for people and animals

As research continues and the concept of One Health becomes even more embedded in society, we will see more research on animal health that crosses to human health, and vice-versa.

Telehealth and home delivery of prescriptions were once more common in human medicine; now they are frequently used in veterinary medicine too. And we expect more treatments for diseases common to animals and people, from infectious diseases to cancer.

This increased awareness of the touchpoints between veterinary and human medicine highlights the need to control the use of antibiotics in all species. The animal health industry will continue to emphasize using antibiotics only when strictly necessary, and then using them correctly to minimize the need for repeated courses of treatment.

Alternatives to antibiotics – nanotechnology, immunotherapies and more – are already being developed. We expect to see the first of these products disrupting the market within the next 5-10 years.

An ounce of prevention

Look for a renewed emphasis on animal disease prevention and, where possible, elimination. We expect to see more vaccines developed for known and newly emerging animal diseases in all the major species. These new vaccines will use the latest technology to make them safer and more effective.

Disease eradication strategies will also continue. After the successful elimination of Rinderpest in 2011, the World Organization for Animal Health (known as OIE) is now leading the charge to eliminate such scourges as Bovine Tuberculosis, Foot and Mouth Disease, African Swine Fever, and cases of rabies transmitted to people by dogs.

Business consolidation and growth

From a business perspective, the pharmaceuticals segment of the animal health industry is both maturing and experiencing a growth surge.  Major animal health pharma companies are merging and consolidating; today’s top 5 companies1 have acquired more than 55 companies since 2010.

At the same time, newer, more nimble firms are growing rapidly. The second tier of animal health companies is chasing the big names, and coming on strong. Companies in animal health diagnostics, animal nutrition, & pet foods are also growing fast. New areas like pet DNA testing have yet to reach or even identify their potential. It’s an exciting time in animal health!

Veterinary medicine will continue to grow

As more people welcome pets into their lives, companion animal veterinary medicine will continue grow.  Despite the 2020 pandemic, 78% of companion animal practitioners in the US reported growth in clinic revenues vs. 2019.1 As that human-animal bond becomes more important, we expect that trend to continue.

Saddle up for the ride

Animal health is an ever changing industry, influenced by economic trends, natural events, and choices made by each of us who eats animal protein or shares our life with an animal. These trends and choices will drive the future of the animal health industry. Come along for the ride!

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  1. Brakke Consulting: 2021 Animal Health Industry Overview webinar presented 23 February 2021