Video: how COVID-19 affects pet food research, hiring

Pet food expert Greg Aldrich explains why the industry could experience long-term effects from even less pet food research and filling of the talent pipeline.

Covid 19 Pet Food Kibble

While the COVID-19 pandemic is having immediate effects on the pet food market – such as dramatic sales surges, resulting production demands and ingredient supply uncertainties – future issues may arise, too. These include a slowdown or temporary stop of pet food research activities, plus possible barriers to job searches for students graduating from pet food-related academic programs as companies put hiring on hold, further narrowing the already small pipeline of new employees entering the industry.

In a video interview, Greg Aldrich, Ph.D., research associate professor and coordinator of the pet food program at Kansas State University, and author of the Ingredient Issues column, provided his experiences and insights on these issues and their potential long-term impact on the pet food industry.

The need for more pet food research, and especially new funding avenues for it, will be the topic of a roundtable discussion at Petfood Forum 2020 on August 21. Even in normal circumstances, not enough pet nutrition research is publicly available to help answer questions that arise during situations like the canine dilated cardiomyopathy and grain-free pet food investigation or the Fanconi syndrome with chicken jerky treats from China. The questions and lack of science-based answers contribute to confusion, anxiety and proliferation of myths among consumers, retailers, veterinarians and regulators. Could these situations be avoided or at least mitigated with better models for pet nutrition research – and what changes and improvements would help?

Moderated by Aldrich, this session will feature industry experts addressing these questions and proposing next steps: Emma Bermingham, Ph.D., senior research scientist of AgResearch in New Zealand; George Collings, Ph.D., president and general manager of Nutrition Solutions; Liz Nahon, DVM, senior director of scientific grants program for the Morris Animal Foundation.

Petfood Forum 2020 will also showcase pet food research by students from Kansas State and several other universities worldwide. For more information, visit


View our continuing coverage of the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic.

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