The trend of pet humanization continues to grow as consumers demand the same healthy, safe, minimally processed foods for their animals that they expect for their own diets. With this desire for minimally processed pet food products, consumers are increasingly turning to raw pet foods, which are growing 23 percent year over year for the third year in a row. High-pressure processing (HPP) is a proven means of creating a safe, clean-label raw pet food, according to Mark Duffy, CEO of Universal Pure, and Aaron Grimm, chief operating officer of Nature's Variety, speaking at Petfood Forum 2018 on April 24.
HPP is a non-thermal process, which uses water and pressure, to inactivate foodborne pathogens and spoilage organisms. Unlike traditional thermal pasteurization and cooking methods, though, HPP maintains a product’s nutrients and flavor, said Duffy.
HPP has many benefits over traditional processing in producing clean-label raw pet foods because it allows for formulation of a healthier diet with more minimally processed ingredients. Since HPP enables production of a safer raw pet food, it can help companies protect their brands with fewer recalls, Duffy said. Selling raw pet food with a clean label can also be a point of competitive differentiation for companies over foods with more-processed ingredients. Other benefits of HPP cited include: improved sustainability, extended product shelf life and enabling innovation in raw pet food.
Nature’s Variety: success with HPP
One raw pet food company, Nature’s Variety, is a testament to the benefits of using HPP to produce raw pet food. After realizing the company desperately needed a kill step to ensure the safety of its raw food, the company implemented HPP.
According to Grimm, there are a number of considerations to take into account when switching to HPP. Based on his experience, Grimm said that companies must ensure the ingredients on the pet food label all tie into nutritional benefits for pets in order to produce a clean label product. Additionally, he said companies need to understand that even though U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards allow for different levels of pathogens, consumers expect safe food so the company needs to be sure that’s what it is producing.
“We know it’s a great technology,” said Duffy.
Mark Duffy and Aaron Grimm speaking at Petfood Forum. | Photo by Alyssa Conway
Petfood Forum was hosted April 24-25 in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.