Petfood Forum to feature Mars exec, Zuckerberg, Grandin

Petfood Forum 2017 will showcase Mars Petcare’s general manager, keynotes Randi Zuckerberg and Temple Grandin, plus the latest dog and cat food research.

Petfood Forum 2017 Conference 1703 Pe Tpff1

Chris Mondzelewski, general manager of pet specialty for Mars Petcare North America, will present a Petfood Forum headliner session on April 5 on consumer trends shaping the pet food market and how Mars responds to them. The day before, Randi Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Zuckerberg Media, will open the conference portion of Petfood Forum with her keynote on how to use social media and other marketing platforms to reach today’s consumers. In the closing keynote on April 5, Temple Grandin, PhD, a designer of livestock handling facilities and professor of animal science at Colorado State University, will discuss animal behavior and the importance of pet professionals knowing what responses to expect.

Petfood Forum, celebrating its 25th anniversary as the exclusive conference for the global pet food manufacturing industry, takes place April 3-5 in Kansas City, Missouri, USA, and will also feature five concurrent session tracks, an exhibit hall and many networking opportunities.

Keynotes, general sessions to inform and inspire pet food professionals

Mondzelewski leads strategic growth and development across Mars Petcare’s specialty brands such as Nutro, Ultra, Evo, California Natural and Greenies, and provides thought leadership for innovations in natural pet care. He has been with Mars Petcare since 2011.

Prior to founding her own company, Zuckerberg worked at Facebook, where she created and ran the social media pioneer’s marketing programs from 2005-11. She is the author of two books, including Dot Complicated, a New York Times bestseller about our wired lives.

Grandin has designed livestock facilities in the US, Canada, Europe, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand and other countries. She has appeared on TV shows such as “20/20,” “48 Hours,” “CNN Larry King Live,” “PrimeTime Live” and the “Today Show,” and has authored more than 300 articles in scientific journals and livestock periodicals. She is also the author of several books, including Thinking in Pictures and Animals in Translation, a New York Times bestseller.

Petfood Forum will also include a general session on the latest data and trends in the US pet food specialty market by Maria Lange, business group director of GfK’s pet specialty practice.

Showcasing latest pet food research

Petfood Forum’s concurrent sessions will highlight the most recent pet food research. New to the conference this year, a track on hot topics offers in-depth discussions of key areas such as biologically appropriate raw pet food, meeting marketing and regulatory needs while considering novel ingredients and dealing with upset pet parents. Other concurrent tracks will cover specific novel ingredients, nutrition research, the pet food market and marketing, and processing, safety and packaging.

The conference will also feature a town hall discussion on the need to fund and share pet food research, plus informal roundtable discussions during lunch on April 5. Petfood Forum includes several meals, receptions and other networking opportunities, a large exhibit hall with the industry’s leading suppliers, a student program with opportunities to connect with students about job and internship openings, a scientific poster display, and visits from pet charities.

Petfood Forum schedule highlights

Monday, April 3

7 a.m.-7:30 p.m.             Petfood Forum registration and check-in

10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.            Petfood Forum exhibitor move-in

5:30-7:30 p.m.                 Petfood Forum/Petfood Innovation Workshop opening reception

Tuesday, April 4

7:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m.         Petfood Forum registration desk open

7:30-8:30 a.m.                 Breakfast

8:30-9:30 a.m.                 Opening keynote: Randi Zuckerberg

9:30 a.m.-6 p.m.              Exhibit hall open

9:30-10:10 a.m.                General session: What’s next for pet food specialty?—Maria Lange, GfK

10:15-10:45 a.m.              Coffee break

10:15-11:45 a.m.              Visiting pet charities

10:15 a.m.-1 p.m.            Time in Exhibit Hall

10:45-11:45 a.m.              Student Program job and internship meet-up

11:45 a.m.-1 p.m.             Lunch in Exhibit Hall

1-4:45 p.m.                      Concurrent sessions (see sidebar)

3:15-3:45 p.m.                  Coffee break

4:45-6:30 p.m.                  Reception/Boulevard Beer Tasting

5:15-6 p.m.                      Scientific poster reception (research from students, academia and industry)

Wednesday, April 5

7:30 a.m.-4 p.m.               Registration desk open

7:30-8:30 a.m.                   Breakfast

8:30 a.m.-3 p.m.               Exhibit hall open

8:30-9:25 a.m.                   Headliner session: Responding to trends shaping the pet food market – Chris Mondzelewski, Mars Petcare North America

9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.          Time in Exhibit Hall

9:45-10:15 a.m.                Coffee break

11 a.m.-Noon                   Student Program job and internship meet-up

Noon-1:30 p.m.                Lunch in Exhibit Hall with roundtable discussions

1:30-2:30 p.m.                  Concurrent sessions (see sidebar)

2:30-3 p.m.                      Coffee break

3 p.m.-Midnight               Exhibitor tear-down

3:10-4 p.m.                       Closing keynote: Temple Grandin, PhD

4:15-5:15 p.m.                  Town hall discussion: Funding and sharing pet food research and science

4:15-7 p.m.                       Closing reception: Kansas City BBQ bash


Full Petfood Forum schedule

Exhibitors and exhibit hall map


Petfood Forum concurrent session highlights

Hot topics track:

  • The rise of biologically appropriate pet foods: What does the science say?
  • Opportunities and challenges of introducing novel ingredients into pet food
  • Dealing with distraught customers in the age of pets as people

Novel ingredients track:

  • Miscanthus grass
  • Improving pets’ joint function with eggshell membrane
  • Extracting protein from pulses

Nutrition track:

  • The aging brain: What can we learn from, and for, our best friend?
  • Beta glucans to benefit the metabolism of obese dogs
  • Implications of vitamin product forms in pet foods

Market/marketing track:

  • The new psychology of pet food marketing: Millennials’ pet parent shopping behaviors
  • Beyond retail: How social media can drive offline and online sales
  • Market data, trends and predictions for ingredient usage and manufacturing capacity

Processing/safety/packaging track:

  • Fresh meat inclusions for dry pet food: What can you accomplish with existing solutions?
  • Futuristic concepts for designing pet food facilities
  • Updated strategies for managing contamination, recall and litigation risks under FSMA
  • The FDA GRAS final rule

For the full list of topics, speakers and descriptions, visit


Petfood Innovation Workshop: Crack the code on pet food product development

Petfood Innovation Workshop: Taste of Pet Food’s Future offers a hands-on seminar on key aspects of product development: palatability measurement and analysis, sensory analysis and consumer insights. Taking place on Monday, April 3, before Petfood Forum, this unique, interactive event will help participants understand and work through measuring, analyzing, understanding and using these tools.

David Sprinkle, research director of Packaged Facts, will kick off Petfood Innovation Workshop with an opening session on how to obtain and mine consumer insights. Then Workshop attendees will be bused to the Kansas State University (KSU)-Olathe Food Innovation Accelerator Lab, about 30 minutes from the Kansas City Convention Center, where they will rotate among different stations, led by Greg Aldrich, PhD, research associate professor at KSU and president of Pet Food Ingredients & Technology. The stations, presented by industry suppliers, will cover topics such as palatability and sensory analysis panels, kibble textures, aroma versus shelf life, quantitative analysis and focus groups.

At the end of the day, Workshop participants will return to the convention center for the Petfood Forum/Workshop opening reception. Find more information and the full schedule at (click on the Petfood Innovation Workshop tab).

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