Pet food executives offer insights at Petfood Forum 2018

Hear insights into hot pet food trends and research from Purina, Nature’s Variety, Aller and Central Garden & Pet executives at Petfood Forum 2018.

Petfood Innovation Workshop offered hands-on learning about pet food new product development. l John Grossman, Images Photographics
Petfood Innovation Workshop offered hands-on learning about pet food new product development. l John Grossman, Images Photographics

Executives from pet food companies including Nestlé Purina PetCare, Nature’s Variety, Freshpet, Aller Petfood Group and Central Garden & Pet are among the expert speakers confirmed for Petfood Forum 2018. The exclusive conference for the global pet food manufacturing industry takes place April 23-25 at the Kansas City Convention Center in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

Daniel Henke-Cilenti, marketing director, Purina brands, explains what transparency means to his company during a roundtable session, “What’s the next big thing? Pet trends market outlook,” on April 25. Aaron Grimm, COO of Nature’s Variety, co-presents a concurrent session on April 24 about using high pressure processing to support clean label trends in raw pet food, while that same day, Henriette Bylling, CEO and owner of Aller Petfood Group, discusses why pet food is surrounded by secrecy. In addition, Scott Morris, president of Freshpet; Mary Wuestenberg, director of talent acquisition for Central Garden & Pet; and Tim Blurton, CEO of Hyper Pet; serve as panelists during an April 25 executive roundtable on talent acquisition and retention.

Petfood Forum 2018 also features exclusive pet food consumer research from David Sprinkle, publisher and research director for Packaged Facts, on what pet owners expect from pet food companies in terms of trust and transparency. More than 20 other sessions cover new market data and trends, and the latest research on pet food nutrition, ingredients, processing and safety. Keynotes by Jack Hanna and Brian Hare, PhD, open and close the conference portion of the event.

Participants in Petfood Forum also experience the Student Program featuring a new competition allowing students in pet food-related university programs to present their research, plus a new Product Showcase demonstrating new products and services from leading industry suppliers. An exhibit hall full of suppliers and multiple networking opportunities round out the event.

Petfood Forum 2018 schedule (as of press time)

Monday, April 23

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 and Petfood Innovation Workshop opening reception

Tuesday, April 24

7:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.           Petfood Forum registration desk open

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

8:30 – 9:30 a.m.                   Opening keynote: Jack Hanna

9:30 – 10:15 a.m.                 General session: My pets eat better than me: pet specialty data and trends show why — Natasha Davis, GfK

9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.            Exhibit hall open

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

10:15 – 11:45 a.m.               Time in exhibit hall

10:15 – 11:45 a.m.               Paws for a break (visiting pet charities)

10:30 – 11:45 a.m.               Petfood Forum Student Program paper oral presentations, meet and greet

10:30 – 11:45 a.m.               Product Presentation Showcase

11:45 a.m. – 1 p.m.          Lunch

1 – 4 p.m.                   Concurrent sessions:


  • Kibble diameter and its effect on canine palatability — Kristopher Figge, AFB International
  • Effect of vitamin supplementation on longevity and health of Beagles — Michael Coelho, PhD, BASF Corp.
  • Gut microbiota: Are cats small dogs? — Emma Bermingham, PhD, Agresearch
  • The gut-brain axis: Select probiotic strains to enhance companion animal well-being — Bart
  • Dunsford, PhD, Lallemand Animal Nutrition
  • Microbial challenge testing for pet foods: new models — Meredith Burke, Kemin Nutrisurance


  • Using avocado meal in extruded diets for cats — Amanda Dainton, University of Illinois
  • Dried yeast: alternative protein for dogs and cats — Gary Davenport, PhD, ADM Animal Nutrition
  • Effect of carbohydrates on health and glycemic index in dogs — Alexandra Rankovic, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph
  • Can non-meat palatants satisfy pets’ taste buds? Researching alternative proteins to meet industry challenges — Aurélie de Ratuld, PhD, Diana Pet Food
  • Managing oxidative stability in freeze-dried pet foods and novel animal proteins — Poulson Joseph, PhD, Videka


  • Why is pet food surrounded by secrecy? The quest for transparency — Henriette Bylling, Aller Petfood Group
  • Following today’s pet food shopping journey — Rebecca Casey, TC Transcontinental Packaging
  • Digesting your issues: Containing a social media crisis — Janine Smiley and Brittany VanMaele, Woodruff
  • Beyond millennials: Reaching the connected pet food consumer — Larine Urbina, Tetra Pak
  • The evolution and future of the grain-free ingredients market — Isaac Matthews, Lansing Trade Group


  • How high pressure processing supports clean label trends in raw pet foods — Mark A. Duffy, Universal Pure, and Aaron Grimm, Nature’s Variety
  • High-moisture extrusion of plant-based and hybrid pet food products: important principlesVolker Lammers, PhD, German Institute of Food Technologists
  • What to expect from FDA under FSMA compliance: Lessons from the human food industry – William Senior, Benjamin L. England & Associates
  • Extruding with fresh meat and ensuring food safety: How to achieve both goals — Daniel
  • Stoffner, Bühler AG
  • Changing pet food recipes without considering processing equipment can wreak havoc in the final product — Carrie Hartford, PE, Jenike & Johanson Inc.

2:30 – 3 p.m.                   Coffee break

4 – 5:30 p.m.                   Reception

4:30 – 5:15 p.m.                   Poster reception

Wednesday, April 25

7:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.            Registration desk open

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

8:30 – 9:30 a.m.                   General session: Exclusive research: Achieving trust and transparency with today’s pet parents — David Sprinkle, Packaged Facts

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

9:30 – 11:45 a.m.                 Time in Exhibit Hall

10 – 10:30 a.m.               Coffee break

10:30 – 11:45 a.m.               Petfood Forum Student Program paper oral presentations, meet and greet

10:30 – 11:45 a.m.               Product Presentation Showcase

11:45 a.m. – 1 p.m.          Lunch

1 – 2:30 p.m.                   Roundtable and panel sessions

  • Insect protein: ready to take flight in pet food market? — moderated by Micah Kohles, DVM, Owbox Animal Health. Speakers include Liz Koutsos, PhD, EnviroFlight; Mark Finke, PhD, Mark Finke LLC consultancy; David A. Dzanis, DVM, PhD, DACVN, Regulatory Discretion; Jeffery Tomberlin, PhD, Texas A&M University.
  • What’s the next big thing? Pet food market trend outlook — speakers include Judy Seybold, WellnessPlaceRD; Bruce Plantz, Watt Global Media; Daniel Henke-Cilenti, Nestlé Purina PetCare.
  • CEO roundtable: Attracting and retaining talent in the hyper-competitive pet food industry — led by Ed Yuhas, Kincannon & Reed Executive Search. Panelists include Greg Aldrich, PhD, Kansas State University; Tim Blurton, Hyper Pet; Cathy Enright, PhD, Pet Food Institute; Scott Morris, Freshpet; Mary Wuestenberg, Central Garden & Pet.

2:30 – 3 p.m.                   Coffee break

3:15 – 4:30 p.m.                   Closing keynote: Brian Hare, PhD — plus announcement of student paper award winners

4:45 – 6:30 p.m.                   Closing reception, Grand Ballroom D


Full Petfood Forum schedule and session descriptions

Petfood Forum 2018 exhibitors and map


Learn about new product development at Petfood Innovation Workshop

Follow the pet food new product development journey during Petfood Innovation Workshop on April 23. This unique event offers in-depth information plus hands-on, immersive lab stations at a nearby test kitchen facility. Opening sessions will include data and trends in new pet food products launches from James Restivo, client director for the pet vertical at Nielsen, plus an overview of the product development process in pet food by Greg Aldrich, PhD, research associate professor and coordinator for the pet food program at Kansas State University (K-State).

At the K-State-Olathe campus (about 30 minutes from the Kansas City Convention Center), attendees will participate in interactive presentations and stations demonstrating various phases and aspects of developing new pet food products. The stations and presentations will be provided by leading industry suppliers.

For a full schedule, descriptions and to register, visit

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