Alternative pet food proteins and the microbiome discussed at Petfood Forum 2024

black dog eating fly closeup

Numerous consumer surveys over the last few years have shown pet owners are becoming more interested in alternative proteins and various functional ingredients in the pet foods they buy. However, many consumers may be unlikely to purchase dog and cat foods that include these ingredients if they are too unfamiliar.

But as more novel proteins and functional ingredients hit the market, what things should your pet food brand consider and are consumers on board?

Petfood Forum 2024 speakers outline the latest consumer insights and research on alternative pet food proteins and the evolving field of microbiome.

Tuesday, April 30 | Concurrent session: Ingredients & nutrition: Alternative pet food proteins, the microbiome

  • 1:30-1:55 — Protein 2.0: Consumer insights and the path to a more sustainable pet food future — Rich Kelleman, co-founder and CEO, Bond Pet Foods
  • 2:00-2:25 — Latest research: Insect protein for companion animals — Anne Carlson, founder and CEO, Jiminy’s
  • 3:00-3:20 — The power of data science in unlocking the secrets of pet gut health — Anne Ballou, Ph.D., scientist, Liva Bioworks
  • 3:25-3:45 — Species-specific evaluation: Using postbiotic models to highlight cat versus dog responses — Mark Franklin, Ph.D., global additives technical lead for pet & lifestyles species, Cargill, and Holly H. Ganz, Ph.D., chief science officer, AnimalBiome
  • 3:50-4:10 — Longevity, live long and prosper, the fountain of youth and the microbiome — Juan Gomez-Basauri, Ph.D., founder and president, Magellan LLC

What is the single, most important concept you hope attendees will learn from your presentation?

Rich Kelleman:

Meat is a beautiful thing for pet health, but its creation comes with a host of environmental challenges to satiate its demand. Additionally, the procurement of meat brings with it an array of supply chain risks related to inconsistent nutritional specifications, shortages, and pricing fluctuations.

Emerging technologies in food and ag show promise to mitigate many of these issues and provide manufacturers and pet parents with new ways to deliver high-quality nutrition to their pets. The ultimate success of these technologies goes beyond solving for foundational regulatory, R&D and scale-up processes. Getting the world to embrace new ingredients and food concepts will also be critical to their success.

We’ll share some data and perspective from Bond’s journey and research, that the industry can take to heart.

Learn more about Rich’s presentation >

Anne Carlson:

Insects are a complete protein source, however, the benefits of feeding insects to companion animals go well beyond protein. Attendees will learn that insect protein is equivalent to other protein sources on all fronts (e.g., amino acids composition and digestibility).

While much of the initial focus on insect protein has been as a sustainable replacement for other animal protein sources (e.g., cow, chicken), there is now a growing body of evidence that insects are a solution for other issues in canines. The benefits of feeding insects to dogs go well beyond protein, including support for a healthy gut microbiome, enhanced immunity, an alternative for food-sensitive dogs, improved mental acuity, joint health and mitigating arthritis signs.

Learn more about Anne’s presentation >

Anne Ballou:

I want the audience to leave with an appreciation of the complexities but also the immense potential of the gut microbiota in the way we design and evaluate pet health and nutrition products.

Learn more about Anne’s presentation >


Holly Ganz:

The key concept that I hope to convey is that well-designed studies of pets living in homes can help companies determine the appropriate supplement or active ingredient dose and strengthen their product claims.

A growing trend in pet food is the inclusion of high-value ingredients like prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics to better support gut health. We want to help pet food companies better understand the roles played by these ingredients in supporting microbiome function in order to enable this trend to better support stronger animal health claims.

At AnimalBiome, we are working to help all members of the pet care community including veterinarians and pet food and supplement companies, understand the role of the microbiome in pet health.

Learn more about Holly’s presentation >

Juan Gomez-Basauri, Ph.D.:

The gut microbiome plays a crucial role in various aspects of health, including digestion, immune function, inflammation, resistance to diseases and longevity. Taking care of the gut microbiome will take care of our wellbeing and that of our furry companions.

Learn more about Jaun’s presentation >