High-meat and human-grade marketing claims grew in popularity over the pastfew decades, but researchers warned that the pet food industry will need tofocus on protein sources that don’t compete with human foods, whileefficiently using resources and minimizing environmental pollution and habitatloss.
Pet food producers may need to adopt novel pet food proteins as adaptions toeconomic and ecosystemic changes. High-meat and human-grade marketing claimsgrew in popularity over the past few decades, but researchers warned that thepet food industry will need to focus on protein sources that don’t competewith human foods, while efficiently using resources and minimizingenvironmental pollution and habitat loss.
“I think there’s going to be a lot more focus on sustainability as we goforward,” Dr. Heather Acuff, Heather Acuff, a third-year Ph.D. student atKansas State University and product development manager for Nulo Pet Food,said on Real Science Exchange, a video series produced by pet food ingredientsupplier Balchem. “That doesn’t always agree with that family feedingmentality, where we’d have meats that we would find on our own plates, likenicely cut chicken breasts, hand trimmed and grass-fed claims.”
Competition for pet food protein sources
Animal protein sources for pets may become increasingly in demand for humanconsumptions, as the world’s people population increases in both number andper capita resource use, Dr. Greg Aldrich, pet food program coordinator atKansas State University, said in the video.
“For those of us on the companion animal side, the pet food side, we’regetting squeezed,” he said. “We’re going to have to start to embrace a lotdifferent varieties of protein that we use in our companion animal diets. Itmay be more of a hearken back to vegetable-based proteins, and it may bealternative sources of protein, insect protein, single-cell proteins,microalgae, even some animal protein sources that we may have discarded in thepast. We’re going to have to get a little bit more open and receptive asconsumers to alternative sources of ingredients, rather than being overlyhumanized. Otherwise we just won’t be able to sustain this business.”
Beyond pet food ingredients, Acuff said pet food packaging sustainabilitymatters to consumers now. The products in the bags, the bag itself and thebackground of both are all aspects of sustainability that informed consumersscrutinize.
Image: Photo by Debbie Phillips-Donaldson
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