Existing ingredients can play new roles in pet food recipes

Making a small change to a pet food formulation can affect everything from palatability to processing to packaging, Amanda Dainton, Ph.D., research project manager for freshpetsaid in his presentation to Pet food essentials on May 2 in Kansas City, Missouri, United States. To avoid at least some of that hassle, she recommended pet food formulators reconsider what they already have when considering new product development or formulation changes.

“If we substitute one ingredient for another, we could have processing issues, as well as packaging issues,” she said. “You’ll be most effective if you’re able to anticipate some of these changes in cascading effects, and adapt and be prepared for them if possible.”

Considering the ingredients, she suggested not to look too far. Pet food formulators may find an ingredient already in their inventory that can meet their needs. No need to reinvent the wheel.

These stock ingredients must provide the functionality that pet food manufacturers need from a nutritional standpoint, as well as a product functionality perspective, she said. Pet food formulators must consider protein and amino acids, fatty acids, fiber, vitamins and minerals. And not all ingredients will be equal and these aspects.

“The same goes for the functionality of the product,” she said. “Some ingredients are very good at retaining water. Other ingredients are good at providing a structural matrix. While it may be easier to use an ingredient that we already have in-house, we have to ensure that it will provide the functionality we are looking for.

Pet Food Ingredient Supply Chains

Similarly, pet food manufacturers should ask current suppliers if they can supply more of this ingredient.

“It would be phenomenal if an ingredient that we already have meets our needs,” she said. “But if our supplier doesn’t have enough to sell to us, that will make things a bit more complicated. This means that we might need to find another supplier. Or we might need to look at other ingredients that give us similar benefits.

Regardless of supplier and ingredient, as many have learned, supply chains can be problematic. Dainton recommended ensuring suppliers have a reserve of ingredients or a rainy day fund for unforeseen events.

“I know we’re probably all very tired of hearing people say this, but we always have to anticipate the unexpected,” she said. “There will always be something that comes up that could very well affect our processing or the availability of ingredients for our new product. The last thing we want to do is tap into that reserve or that extra volume of spare ingredients that our suppliers have to help us produce that new product.

Like it or not, the new normal seems to include logistical issues, she said.