Dog and cat owners’ desire to see recognizable meat and vegetable ingredients in their pets’ foods has become an influential trend in wet pet food, said Jeroen Boensma, area sales manager at SELO Food Processing, during his presentation at Foro Mascotas 2018 in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. This trend influences how pet food manufacturers process their products.

Changes meat structure for wet pet food

Traditionally, the meat in pet food was cut into cubes of relatively uniform size. Now, pet owners increasingly want the meat that appears to have been torn into shreds, Boensma said. Customers may perceive these irregular pieces as more natural or less processed.

To create meat pieces that appear to have been shredded, pet food manufacturers can use a broken-rope technique during processing, he said.

However, the irregular shreds aren’t are efficient to process as uniform chunks in a traditional steam tunnel. Although these irregular shreds may be less efficient for steam tunnel processing, the steam tunnels themselves have become more efficient. Newer steam tunnels use 20 to 30 percent less steam than older models, he said. That makes the steam tunnels both more environmentally sustainable and more economical to operate.

Vegetable pieces in wet pet food

Along with shreds of meat, pet owners want to see other ingredients in their dog, cat and other pet foods.

“People like to see vegetables, not just an emulsion of meat,” said Boensma.

The trend towards recognizable ingredients in wet pet food means the finished products appear as mixture of different ingredients, as opposed to a pâté, essentially. As with meat shreds, irregular sized pieces of vegetable also tend to be more challenging to sterilize.