This novel protein has potential as a sustainable option in pet food and

treats.

Should alternative protein always be non-meat or non-animal? In New Zealandone alternative protein being looked at is possums, culled and processed intosausages and jerky for dogs.

Near the top in the hierarchy of pests in New Zealand, possums’ bad reputationfor bringing destruction to plants and birds, as well as to farm crops to thetune of US$35 million a year on average, is the reason why Kiwis are pleasedto turn them into dog food.

The current possum population in New Zealand is estimated to be around 30million — a huge number that local pet food makers like Fond Foods Ltd. andOmega Pet Foods are helping to reduce by hunting and harvesting the marsupialsfor man’s best friend.

Possums in pet food products

In 2019, Fond Foods sold 100,000 kilos of possum meat (equivalent to 70,000possums) that they processed as dog rolls and treats under the brand namePossyum. Demand for Possyum is coming mostly from urban areas, they said.Their premium possum dog rolls and dried treat products are blended with beefand lamb liver and kidney.

Omega Pet Food, a subsidiary of Dawson Furs which supplies possum furs, offersdog owners in New Zealand preservative-free possum dog food in raw, pellet andbiscuit forms following Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO)standards.

Possible benefits of possum meat

Traditionally harvested for their fur and practically unheard of as a pet foodingredient until recently, possums are now valued as a true environmentallyfriendly source of protein. With a wild diet that consists of leaves, freshshoots, fruits and grasses, possums develop flesh that is low in fat but highin omega-3 and omega-6 unsaturated fatty acids. Possum meats are said tocontain the highest level of fatty acids compared to the most common sourcesof meat for pet food. Omega-rich food can aid in improving a dog’s skin, coatand joints. Pet food companies that have embraced possums as a novel meatalternative also guarantee that it is safe and clean as only possums fromchemical-free forests are allowed by the government to be harvested for dogconsumption.

A unique New Zealand product, possum meat is expected to attract other localbusinesses to develop their own possum-made pet food products and provideadditional employment for the locals while keeping possums’ population down.

Source: Alma Buelva Petfood Industry

Image: Bigstock A brushtail possum (Trichosurus sp.) in a grassy field in theMt. Aspiring National Park, New Zealand.

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