Making a small change to a pet food formulation can affect everything from palatability to processing to packaging, Amanda Dainton, Ph.D., research project leader for Freshpetsaid in her presentation on Pet Food Supplies on May 2 in Kansas City, Missouri, USA. To avoid at least some of this hassle, she recommended that pet food manufacturers rethink what they already have when considering new product development or formulation changes.
“If we trade one ingredient for another, we can have problems with our processing and problems with our packaging,” she said. “You’ll be most successful if you’re able to anticipate some of those changes in cascading effects, and adapt and be ready to deal with them if possible.”
Given the ingredients, she suggested not looking too far. Pet food formulators can already find an ingredient in their inventory that can meet their needs. No need to reinvent the wheel.
These stock ingredients should provide the functionality that pet food makers need from a nutritional perspective, as well as a product functionality perspective, she said. Animal nutrition formulars must take into account proteins and amino acids, fatty acids, fibre, vitamins and minerals. And not all ingredients will be equal and those aspects.
“The same will be true for product functionality,” she said. “Some ingredients are very good at retaining water. Other ingredients are good at providing a structure matrix. While it may be the easiest way to use an ingredient we already have in our house, we need to make sure it has the functionality we’re looking for.”
Pet Food Ingredient Supply Chains
Likewise, pet food manufacturers should ask current suppliers if they can provide more of that ingredient.
“It would be phenomenal if an ingredient we already have met our needs,” she said. “But if our supplier doesn’t have enough of selling to us, things get a little more complicated. It means we may have to find another supplier. Or maybe we should look at other ingredients that have similar benefits for us.”
Whatever supplier and ingredient, as many have learned, supply chains can be problematic. Dainton recommended that suppliers have an ingredient reserve or a rainy day fund for unforeseen events.
“I know we’re probably all very tired of hearing people say this, but we should always anticipate the unexpected,” she said. “There will always be something that comes out really well that could affect our processing or the availability of ingredients for our new product. The last thing we want to do is dive into that reserve or extra reserve ingredient volume that our suppliers to help us produce this new product.”
Like it or not, the new normal seems to involve logistical issues, she said.