Especially within the past decade, demands for “clean” ingredient labels have risen for both human and pet foods, but the exact definition of a clean label remains amorphous. Steve Peirce, CEO of rice-based ingredient supplier Ribus, Inc., shared his insights into how dog and cat food company can achieve a clean label. [see video below]
“Clean label, it’s kind of like one of those words natural, there is no technical definition,” Peirce said. “When I travel all over the world, people ask me ‘what is clean label?’ and I usually say number one can your consumer pronounce it. Number two does it give you an indicator of where that ingredient comes from.”
For example, Ribus produces rice extracts that can be used in place of a mono- or diglycerides, which serve as emulsifiers in food products. Although ingredient suppliers derive these chemicals from animal and vegetable fats, the name doesn’t convey that origin story. Instead, consumers may be wary of the technical name.
As opposed to those “chemistry-lab sounding” names, rice bran extract is immediately identifiable with the rice plant itself, said Peirce.
“Is there a mono or diglyceride tree or a silicon dioxide bush? No,” he said.
“It's all about consumer demand,” Pierce said. “With the internet, with the emails and social media people are very in tune to what is in a product. And it's the same buyer whether it’s for themselves or the kids or the pet. So, once they decide what they want, it’s the same products.”
Pet food companies can meet the consumer demand for clean labels in numerous ways, he said.
“If you look at the United States in the 70s 80s and 90s, there's a lot of chemistry-lab sounding names,” he said. “Now, people are looking at where can I get that same functionality but from a natural source. So, we’re going back and looking at getting the same ingredients from the rice bran from the rice hulls that were by-products but now they're going into the food chain.”
Using formerly unwanted materials, such as rice hulls, also boosts the sustainability of pet food ingredients, he said.
Learn more about how pet food companies can meet consumers’ demands for clean labels at Petfood Forum. Petfood Forum provides an opportunity for pet food professionals from around the world to network, exchange ideas and do business with one another and with the industry's leading pet food manufacturers and suppliers.