A deep dive into alternative pet foods

Petfood Essentials is an interactive, informal educational pre-conference seminar, held the day prior to the opening of Petfood Forum.

Pet food industry professionals learned how to meet consumer demands for alternative pet foods at Petfood Essentials on May 1, the day before Petfood Forum 2023.

Petfood Essentials provided a chance to learn from experts about the unique benefits and challenges of producing and marketing alternative pet foods in key areas like nutrition, processing, packaging, distribution, retailing, safety and testing. Plus, participants had many opportunities to network with sponsors and other pet food professionals.

Though still a relatively small part of the pet food market, so-called alternative formats—pet foods that are raw, fresh, freeze-dried, air-dried, baked, gently cooked or similar—are among the fastest growing, with 24% to 29% of millennial/gen Z pet owners saying they now buy these products. At the same time, the pet food industry is innovating, creating new ways to use traditional processing methods and technologies to achieve different product formats, such as dog chews.

2023 sessions at a glance:

  • Trends and developments in the pet care industry — The latest data and trends on a variety of developments in pet care, including premium pet food formats, digitalization and growing focus on sustainability: How have these trends developed, and which will last over the long term? What is the outlook for the industry through 2027? Speaker: Mark Strobel, senior research manager with Euromonitor International
  • Nutritional research on minimally processed pet diets: What we know and still need to understand – Research findings on studies designed and conducted to validate the nutritional benefits of feeding these alternative types of complete and balanced diets. Speaker: James Templeman, Ph.D., adjunct professor at the University of Guelph and a nutritionist with Primal Pet Foods. 
  • What processing means for alternative pet foods – Defining high-pressure processing, freeze-drying and dehydration technology and other ways to safely process alternative pet foods without changing their formats. Speaker: Grace Danao, Ph.D., research associate professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln

            Sponsored by: Extru-Tech Inc.

  • Packaging, distributing, and retailing – An overview of the latest research and tips on packaging and shelf-life considerations for alternative pet foods, including cold chains for raw/frozen products. Speaker: Jason Sawyer, Ph.D., associate professor of meat science at Auburn University
  • Safety and testing for alternative pet foods – Samuel Kiprotich, Ph.D. student at Kansas State University, shared research on using new food additives to keep alternative pet foods safe and pathogen-free. He also gave an overview of other safety methods, including high pressure processing, irradiation, and microwaves. Speaker: Samuel Kiprotich, Ph.D. student at Kansas State University

           Sponsored by: Midwest Labs

About Petfood Essentials 2024

Petfood Essentials will take place again on April 29, 2024, featuring an all-new theme. Set the foundation for your entire Petfood Forum 2024 experience with more education and more networking, in an informal setting.

** Purchase the Petfood Forum 2-Day & Petfood Essentials Combo Pass for the best value. **

2023 Petfood Essentials Sponsors: