The challenges of extruding high-meat pet food
Industry experts tackle the processing challenges of a growing pet food trend, from wet and dry pet food extruding to food safety.
As the specialty pet food market continues to grow, consumer desires are becoming increasingly specific. No longer are “organic” and “natural” the only buzzwords pet owners want to see; instead, the segments of the superpremium pet food world are constantly expanding. High-meat pet foods are among those segments.
“High-meat pet food is generally defined as having fresh meat contents of greater than 30%,” said Sharon Nowak, Coperion K-Tron’s business development manager, and Ed Beecher, Coperion’s senior sales and process engineer. “In some cases, the combination of low-end animal protein with small amounts of vegetable protein is also used to get the texture and appearance of meat.”
It’s not just that more pet food products now contain meat at some level, according to Galen Rokey, director of process technology for the companion animal division of Wenger Mfg. Inc.—the level of meat inclusion is also increasing. “Part of this is marketing to the consumers’ desires and part is often an increase in quality attributes like digestibility,” he said. “When moving from meals to meat as the protein source, we often see substantial increases in protein digestibility in the final product. If a pet food contains at least 4% meat, the label can read, 'Made with Meat.' If the recipe contains at least 14% meat, the label can read, 'Made with Extra Meat.' If the recipe contains at least 26% meat, the label can read, 'Pet Food Meat Dinner' or similar verbiage. Some novel protein sources are only available as meat and are not available in dry…