The science and technology behind treats, toppers and inclusions focus of hands-on workshop

In the market today the fastest growing categories are pet treats, foods with inclusions, and indulgence items, known as toppers, to place on the top of the pets’ foods.

For treats the sky seems to be the limit. Baked foods still predominate, but jerkies, semi-moist highly visual mimicry products, freeze dried snacks, and various preserved animal parts are gaining rapidly. These treats are being marketed as items to enhance foods with their mixing into kibble-based products as “inclusions.”

These inclusions may be dried fruits and vegetables, freeze dried meat pieces, and (or) extruded/baked bits. Some are merchandized as “super fortified” with key nutrient additions or nutraceuticals.

Rounding out these hybrid food formats, the toppers take this inclusion to a new level with products intended to supplement food with functional ingredients and in some cases merely provide an attractive visual effect or add fun. Regardless the intent, this is a new expanding segment that increase options for pet owners to interact with their animals. This interaction of pet and human has much more room to grow and the buying public seems to find them irresistible.

With that in mind, this year’s Petfood R&D Showcase will explore the topic of treats and supplemental additive foods and forms for our companion animals. This one-of-a-kind workshop will provide participants with interactive, engaging, and in some applications hands-on experiences with new technologies for producing these extra-nutritional food forms. Sponsors will create stations for participants to explore the process of producing highly fortified additions for pet food incorporation, learn about unique ingredients to consider in these specialty applications, and explore new equipment, fortification, visual enhancement, mixing and blending systems, packaging, and other aspects of this movement toward higher involvement food products.

In addition to the hands-on activities, the latest research will be provided by researchers at Kansas State University and Industry partners. The research sessions will explore cutting edge work that complements these new food formats and share details about the science behind discoveries that participants will be able to incorporate into their product offerings.

A variety of research posters will be presented by graduate and undergraduate students to showcase their recent work and several theme focused networking sessions. The net result will be significant opportunities to make new contacts, stimulate innovative ideas, and learn new approaches to creating the next generation of pet treats, toppers, and inclusions.