Superpremium, single-serve packaging may trade sustainability for

convenience. Encapsulated pet food in a dissolvable pod could replace single-serve packages and reduce waste.

Single serve pet foods have grown in popularity, as people seek conveniencewhile feeding cats and smaller dogs in urban environments. However, thatconvenience comes with an environmental price tag, as convenience tends too.Each serving now requires its own bit of single-use packaging, which usesresources even if it’s recyclable, which it often isn’t, meaning it probablyends up in a landfill. As pet owners also gravitate towards premium pet foods,they also look for packaging that fits the mood. Those brightly printed,sturdy materials may ensure freshness on par with human foods, but they can bea bear to recycle. Multiple layers of material often mean superpremiumpackaging must make a trade-off with sustainability, Scott Whiteside, foodscience professor at Clemson University, said during the Q&A of the PetfoodForum Connect-ED presentation.

During the discussion, I thought of detergent pods and spring rolls.Dissolving wrappers allow people to have single-servings of detergent. Thatconvenience opened new product lines for soap peddlers. I wondered if perhapsthere was a way to encapsulate pet food in a similar pod to replace single-serve packages. The product could be a dehydrated formulation that wouldabsorb the water too. Once saturated, the whole thing could be stirredtogether, or left with the wrapper intact. I envisioned something lookingalmost like a spring roll with its translucent rice paper wrapper.

Feasibility of pet food pods

However, humans don’t eat many foods with dissolving wrappers. Not yet atleast. Whiteside said he’s seen some work on something similar in human foods,though nothing that has risen to the level of large-scale marketacceptability. In one, a water-soluble coating encapsulates the food.

“I could easily see that happen in the pet food industry,” Whiteside said.“You would coat it with fish gelatin, or some other gelatin product, like agelatin capsule we would take for ourselves…Fish gelatin could do that, orsome cellulose-based materials.”

Like detergent pods, the pet food pods would likely need to be kept somewheredry like a plastic tub, he said. The coating would absorb water from the airand become a pile of mush otherwise.

To further reduce the environmental footprint, that tub could be refillable,perhaps through a home delivery service that would recover the packages forcleaning and reuse.

Source:Tim Wall Petfood Industry

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