With legacy pet food contributing substantially to increasingly dire climate change outcomes, Austin, Texas, is emerging as a hub for the pet industry's sustainable future.
Neo Bites, which makes functional dog food toppers and treats from insect protein, and Springer Pets, an innovative maker of sustainable pet products, represented the industry during SXSW earlier this month. Neo Bites co-founder Wesley Cooper represented the pet food industry in the Future of Food session. Neo Bites and Springer co-hosted a Pets & Planet Movement Party for SXSW attendees the next day. The duo lead a pack of companies based in Austin that also includes Wondercide and YayHound who are ushering the pet industry into an era of sustainability.
"Austin's spirit of innovation and ecological resilience has given rise to a movement among smart and sustainable startups that are leading the way in reversing the tide of destruction wreaked by legacy pet food," says Neo Bites co-founder Wesley Cooper, whose startup became the first pet food company to be certified carbon negative.
"We're accelerating the shift toward sustainable animal nutrition with insect protein. In addition to providing more nutritional benefit than typical pet food proteins, insect protein produces virtually zero greenhouse gases and uses far less water and land than animal protein."
The latest International Panel on Climate Change report, released in February, announced that human-induced climate change is already causing dangerous and widespread disruption in nature and affecting billions of people and animals globally. From heatwaves to droughts and floods, increasing impacts from climate change are driving mass mortalities in species like trees and corals.
Animal agriculture is responsible for approximately 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions, similar to the emissions from all global transportation. America's pets contribute up to 30% of animal agriculture's emissions, and if they were their own country, its meat consumption would rank fifth in the world. Meanwhile, pet ownership surged during the pandemic, with one in five U.S. families acquiring a dog or cat in the last two years. With more pets–and more humans–to feed, it's more important than ever for the pet industry to act with purpose.
"Our products better connect humans and pets and we also do everything in a way that protects and nurtures their best playground, Mother Earth," says Springer Pets CEO and Co-founder Shannon Ross. Her company's products are BPA-free and reduce the reliance on single-use plastic bottles while also conserving water.
"We are at a critical juncture in the fight against climate change and we know the path we must take is toward products and solutions that prioritize the health of our shared environment."
Both Neo Bites and Springer Pets are members of 1% for the Planet and donate 1% of annual gross sales to impactful environmental nonprofits. Wondercide, which makes plant-based and chemical-free, is a Green America Certified business, while Yayhound, which makes sustainable dog toys, offset the equivalent of 80 tons of CO2 in 2021 alone.
About Neo Bites: Neo Bites is changing how dog lovers feed their pets by creating sustainable, healthy, and great-tasting dog food products that harness the unique functional benefits of insect protein. Their signature toppers aim to make high-quality nutrition attainable for all - not just those who can afford fresh dog food. All products are made from whole food ingredients and are produced in small batches in Austin, TX. More at www.eatneobites.com.
About Springer Pets: Springer is a women-owned startup built on the legacy of a family business and backed by 35-plus years of innovation in product design. We share a lifelong love of the animals, people, and places that make up our community. Read our Guide to Sustainable Dog Ownership here. For more on our products, visit our website at www.springerpets.com.