Just as there are leftovers in the home after a meal, human food production leaves behind nutritious, edible ingredients, Elizabeth Barber, F.L. Emmert Company executive vice president, said (video below). For various reasons, people reject those large-scale leftovers from their own plates. Using human food byproducts, such as yeast from beer brewing, in pet food keeps vital nutrients out of landfills. However, for years, there’s been a disconnect between the pet food industry and consumers about the value of byproducts.
“It’s actually a beautiful thing that consumers don’t think about and shouldn’t have to think about,” Barber said.
Byproduct usage serves as a huge sustainability story for the pet food industry, she said. People in the industry take for granted that others know the same. That may be where this disconnects starts. Consumers have heard a different story about byproducts from marketers, bloggers and others. The byproduct, coproduct and rendering industries, along with pet food brands, must tell this sustainability story. Otherwise, people will believe what they read wherever.
Sustainability of byproducts as pet food ingredients
Traditionally, these human food byproducts have served as ingredients in pet food and livestock feed. Despite rare but high publicity problems, such as pentobarbital in pet food, co-products make safe, nutritious ingredients in pet foods. However, marketing claims by some pet food companies disparage byproducts. While the premiumization of pet food drives value growth in sales, it may also increase the amount of resources needed to produce pet foods, while wasting the potential of human food stream leftovers.
“There’s this push for recycling, sustainability, efficient use of raw materials and treating the planet well,” Barber said. “But there’s also this war on the word byproducts and the way some of these leftovers are used for pet food.”