The American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) hosted its eighth annual Petfood Conference January 27, 2015, as part of the International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE) in Atlanta, Georgia. The event highlighted the latest industry initiatives, food safety, consumer trends and sustainability.

"More than 250 people registered for the conference, which shows the immense interest surrounding the ever-developing petfood industry," said Leah Wilkinson, AFIA director of ingredients, petfood and state affairs. "The conference provides an excellent outlet for every aspect of the petfood industry to hear from experts and discuss challenges and breakthroughs within their field."

The conference featured a presentation by Svetlana Uduslivaia of Euromonitor International, who focused on US and global trends. She noted a positive increase in cat and dog food sales globally at a constant 3% in 2014. She said to expect emerging markets on the horizon in Brazil and Russia as 46% of Brazilian households own at least one dog and 20% own at least one cat. In Russia, 28% of households own at least one dog and 37% of households own at least one cat. Anticipated pet population growth would result in an increase in petfood consumption.

Daniel McChesney of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)'s Center for Veterinary Medicine provided an overview of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the FDA Amendments Act of 2007 and Salmonella. McChesney said manufacturers have made enormous strides to reduce the prevalence of Salmonella in dry commercial dog and cat food, down to 1.7% in samples taken during the 2010-12 timeframe, down from 13% in 2002-06. He added that, due to the decrease is Salmonella occurrence, dry petfood will not be part of the assignment for the current fiscal year sampling plan.

Speakers also presented on a number of other topics. LeAnn Chuboff of the Safe Quality Food Institute gave an update on the Petfood Facility Certification Program, while Marianne Smith Edge of the International Food Information Council gave a presentation on consumers and technology. David Meeker of the National Renderers Association and Charles Starkey of American Proteins gave a joint presentation on innovations in animal proteins.

Attendees received updates from representatives from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the FDA and the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). "Petfood issues and questions from consumers take up roughly 50% of staff and volunteer time for AAFCO," said Richard Ten Eyck, AAFCO president.

The AFIA event was part of IPPE, which attracted an estimated 30,000 poultry, meat and feed industry leader attendees from all over the world. IPPE had 1,288 exhibitors with more than 490,000 net square feet of exhibit space.