Plant-based ingredients have gained popularity in both human food and pet food for many years, and may now attract even greater interest and product development in the wake of supply chain issues affecting traditional animal proteins.
For example, a 2021 survey by Beneo showed that 72% of American pet owners were open to having a plant-based protein source in their pet’s diet. Accordingly, plant-based claims on new pet food products launched from 2016-2020 grew at a 40% compound annual growth rate, according to Innova Market Insights. And more pet food companies are looking to enter the sector: 62% of more than 300 pet food producers surveyed in 2022 by industry supplier CRB said they are considering switching protein sources to plants in the next five years. are.
Yet even with this growing popularity, pet food processing experts caution that developing products containing plant-based ingredients requires new and different production ideas and protocols to ensure that you can create a marketable product. Huh.
3 essential considerations in developing a plant-based pet food
In the CRB survey, responding pet food producers ranked three factors as “extremely important” to consider when developing pet foods with plant-based proteins: the nutritional profile of the final product (52%) rank by), its label (48%) and its appearance (37%).
1. Nutrition Profile. Plant-based proteins alone will not give pets the balanced diet they need,” wrote Tony Moses, Ph.D., director of product innovation for CRB, explaining the importance of the nutritional profile. Filling can mean expanding your supply chain, your manufacturing process, and your storage capacity.”
In other words, it is not necessary to replace the other proteins in the current formulation with plant-based proteins. And in addition to those changes, you need to take into account potential processing effects. “Before committing to a final formulation, look above to see how this formulation will affect your operation,” Moses wrote, emphasizing that different ingredients will be handled differently during production. Is. “Simulation techniques can help you test different approaches, giving you visibility into your process, while still having the opportunity to make cost-effective changes. This will help you develop a tailored approach that will pet Provides both a balanced formula for animals and a balanced return on your investment.”
2. Surat. Your R&D team should also spend time on questions regarding the desired appearance of the product. “Will your plant-based protein appear as individual particles, like chunks in a stew?” Moses wrote. “Or will you offer a mixed food, such as a bread-style canned product? The answer will shape your manufacturing and sourcing strategy, which in turn will have a major impact on the cost of your product to make—and the way consumers buy it.” What will it cost?
3. Labeling. The label brings together the nutritional profile and appearance of the product, and potential label claims require serious consideration. “Behind every claim lies a smart cleaning, storage and utilities strategy,” explained Moses. “Planning this strategy early can help you avoid costly future retrofits.
“It is not enough to develop a formulation free of a certain element (such as meat, gluten or grain),” he continued. “To substantiate those claims, you need a sound understanding of modern hygienic design for pet food processing. Manufacturers with raw meat in their product portfolio know this strategy all too well: It prevents cross-contamination from your process. It is about eliminating risk, ensuring that the claims you make on your label are valid from the moment you receive your raw materials. The final product leaves your facility.”
Pet food processing equipment suppliers can help
If you’re considering whether to add any new ingredients to your pet food portfolio—whether to move to the plant-based category or tackle current supply chain challenges—the suppliers of your processing equipment often offer help and support. can offer.
“We basically always recommend for a customer who supplied the system or who helped set up the system to see if they would be willing to offer any kind of testing that Will the piece of equipment they have will work with the new ingredient and/or recipe change,” Drew Turner, regional sales manager for Coperion’s Food Industry Markets, said during the Pet Food Pro chat. “So that we are with them, along with the experts. negotiate, and make sure it’s done right.”
If your company has the capability, it’s also a good idea to run your own tests, including making sure the formulation meets nutritional requirements and standards. “If you have a one-time piece with which you can actually play the material and start validating those materials,” Turner said, “it’s an important step, but be aware that with changing content a lot.” All the challenges are there. It’s usually easiest to work with suppliers.
“Here are some of us who would do a free trial if you contact a local representative or contact the company,” suggests Turner. “And you say, ‘Hey, I’ve got this ingredient, I potentially want to replace, here I am now, here I want to go, what would you recommend,’ and we’ll do a test for that, and gives you the actual results, and the kind of accuracy you can expect.”