Using plant-based protein in pet food may be the answer to growing world population

Plant-based proteins are widely used in human and animal nutrition, and as the world population continues to increase they may begin to play an even bigger role. By 2050, the world population is expected to reach 9 billion people requiring 60 percent more food than is currently produced. This means the demand for animal protein will likely take away possible ingredients for pet food.

Many plant-based proteins already used in pet food began as byproducts of other food production, and have since become valuable parts of the food supply. These ingredients include: soybeans, peas, lupin beans, potatoes, wheat and corn. All of which are available in large quantities and in a variety of styles.

When looking for new protein sources, it’s important to consider long-term sustainability explained Dr. Fred van de Velde, expertise group leader in protein functionality for NIZO Food Research BV during Petfood Forum 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri, USA. He said this goes beyond environmental sustainability to becoming a question of continued availability of the product as it rises in importance in the food supply.

Proteins van de Velde called emerging and upcoming plant-based proteins are less used on the market and slowly being adopted, or are still largely in the research stage. He said emerging crops include: faba beans, chickpeas, lentils, marrowfat peas, beans and rapeseed. Upcoming sources include: quinoa, duckweed, sunflower seeds, green leaves and microalgae.

Aurélie de Ratuld, PhD, R&D cat platform manager for Diana Pet Food,  discussed creating value with alternative protein sources during Petfood Forum Asia 2018. de Ratuld’s presentation posed these questions: can the pet food industry continue to please pets and meet the challenges of a global growing planet in terms of animal protein availability, food safety crises, sustainability and custom barriers? What are the alternatives for technologies and sourcing, and can vegetable proteins be part of the answer.

The next edition of Petfood Forum Asia is coming in 2020 in Bangkok, Thailand.