Petfood Forum and Petfood Innovation Workshop offer latest research, interactive learning

Get the latest research and data on pet nutrition, petfood safety, processing, marketing and more—and gain hands-on pet treat development experience.

John Grossman | Images Photographics
John Grossman | Images Photographics

At Petfood Forum 2015, petfood professionals can learn about the latest research and data on pet nutrition, petfood safety, processing, marketing and more—and gain hands-on treat development experience during Petfood Innovation Workshop: Next Generation Treats.

Scheduled for April 27–29 at its new location of Kansas City, Missouri, USA, Petfood Forum also offers many networking opportunities with petfood professionals from around the world as well as a large exhibit hall for connecting with leading industry suppliers. The exhibit hall includes a display of posters covering new research from the industry and from students in petfood-related university programs.

Petfood Forum starts  the evening of April 27 with an opening reception. On April 28, Jackson Galaxy, star of Animal Planet’s My Cat From Hell, opens the conference portion of the event with a keynote on lessons he’s learned from working with cats and their owners. Dave Bolen, CEO of the Bolen Group and former CEO of Pet Supplies Plus, follows, presenting pet retailing insights on how petfood manufacturers can grow their businesses and the industry. The afternoon of April 28 and morning of April 29 feature four concurrent session rooms with industry experts covering pet nutrition and petfood marketing/product development, safety and processing.

A discussion session on developing your future workforce and research projects through industry-academic partnerships, led by Greg Aldrich, PhD, and including executives from Mars Petcare US, Simmons Pet Food, Kemin, Wenger and Kansas State University, takes place the afternoon of April 29. Then, during the closing keynote, the Flying Houndz Frizbee Trick Dog Show performs, with the group’s owners explaining how and why they work with rescue dogs.

Petfood Innovation Workshop  is also new, taking place April 27. It includes time at the Food Innovation Accelerator Lab at nearby Kansas State University-Olathe, a test kitchen where participants can develop new types of treats. For more information on both events and how to register, visit

Petfood Forum 2015 schedule

Monday, April 27

8:00 am-7:30 pm  Petfood Forum registration and check-in

8:00 am-5:30 pm  Petfood Forum exhibitor move-in

5:30-7:30 pm   Petfood Forum and Workshop opening reception

Tuesday, April 28

7:30 am-6:30 pm  Registration desk open

7:30-8:30 am  Breakfast

8:30-9:30 am  Opening keynote : Jackson Galaxy, star of the hit Animal Planet show My Cat From Hell, describes the inspirations for his career, lessons he’s learned from working with cats and their owners and why his primary goal is to help save the 4 million animals that die in shelters each year.

Galaxy has over 15 years’ experience working with animals, starting at the Humane Society of Boulder Valley in Boulder, Colorado, USA. After nine years there, he co-founded Little Big Cat Inc. to give mind-body consultations to cat guardians, focusing on the connection between physical and behavioral health. Galaxy continued his private practice after moving to Los Angeles in 2007, which led to My Cat From Hell. He has written two books, Cat Daddy: What the World’s Most Incorrigible Cat Taught Me About Life, Love, and Coming Clean, and Catification, published in fall 2014. Galaxy works closely with animal shelters and rescue organizations, educating volunteers, staff and adopters, and serves on the board of directors or advisors for several humane and rescue organizations.

9:30-10:15 am  General session: Pet retailing insights for petfood manufacturers —Dave Bolen, CEO of the Bolen Group and former CEO of Pets Supplies Plus, provides insights from his career in pet retailing, including as an executive with Petco, on opportunities from retailers’ and consumers’ points of view to grow your importance and business with your retail accounts.

Bolen founded his retailing consultancy in July 2014 after 40-plus years of experience in retailing. For nine years, he was a leader in the pet specialty industry, serving as president and CEO of Pets Supplies Plus and executive vice president and chief merchandising officer of Petco. Previously, he also served as executive vice president with Jo-Ann Stores and Michaels Stores. Bolen holds a bachelor of business administration from the University of Minnesota.

10:15 am-6:45 pm  Exhibit hall and networking lounge open

10:15 am-12:00 pm  Visiting pets

10:15-10:45 am  Coffee break in exhibit hall

10:45 am-12:00 pm  Time in exhibit hall

12:00-1:30 pm  Lunch

1:30-2:15 pm  Concurrent sessions 1


Future canine health: novel ingredient innovation —Roger Clemens, DrPH, CFS, CNS, FACN, FIFT, FIAFST, Chief Science Officer for Horn, explains how enhanced knowledge of a bitch’s colostrum and milk composition, physical properties and functional characteristics that impact puppy health can lead to significant advances and opportunities for ingredient innovation.

Clemens is an adjunct professor of pharmacology and pharmaceutical sciences at the University of Southern California School of Pharmacy and of food science and nutrition at California State University, Northridge. Clemens co-founded, established and contributes to a Food, Medicine and Health column published monthly in Food Technology. As a spokesperson for the Institute of Food Technologists and the American Society of Nutrition, he has been cited and interviewed by more than 500 health journalists.

Marketing/new product development:

The next big thing in petfood —Maria Lange, Senior Product Manager of Consumer Choices at GfK, discusses why natural and grain-free were yesterday’s news and offers insights on the trends that can differentiate petfood manufacturers from the competition without over-investing in short-lived fads.

In her role with GfK Pet Nutrition, Lange works with major pet industry clients, including leading manufacturers and retailers, by detecting and explaining trends in GfK’s unmatched purchase database covering about 11,000 pet stores and 27,000 veterinarian clinics nationwide. Lange holds a degree in international culture and business studies from Universität Passau in Germany.


Case study of high meat inclusion in dry-expanded petfoods —Will Henry, Director of Technology and R&D for Extru-Tech, delivers a summary of more than 20 product trials, conducted by petfood producers in response to consumer demand, involving the development of formulations, process profiles and equipment design for the production of a new genre of shelf-stable dry-expanded products with high inclusions of fresh meat.

In his position at Extru-Tech, Henry addresses petfood manufacturers and audiences around the globe about extrusion, processing and food safety systems. He joined Extru-Tech in 2006 after serving as senior project engineer with Bachelor Controls. Henry holds a bachelor of science in electrical engineering from Kansas State University and is certified in HACCP, BSL-2 and as an SQF practitioner.

Petfood safety:

Crisis management: how to develop and implement a crisis preparedness plan —David Rosenblatt, DVM, Director of Training at Sher Consulting and Training, provides helpful tools to prepare and implement a crisis management procedure, aimed at mitigating the potential damage to a company’s reputation. Using case studies, he explains essential elements of a plan and how to evaluate its effectiveness before a crisis occurs.

Rosenblatt received his doctor of veterinary medicine degree from Hebrew University and previously worked with Unilever Israel. He also served as head of the food sector and a senior educator for the Standards Institution of Israel before joining Sher. Rosenblatt is a lead auditor for numerous international standards and teaches companion animal nutrition and food safety at the Koret School of Veterinary Medicine. He is a member of the American Academy of Veterinary Nutritionists and the International Association for Food Protection.

2:20-3:05 pm  Concurrent sessions 2


How well do dogs use the omega-3s in their food? —Signe Svindland, Director of Pet Care for AkerBiomarine, describes a blood sample showing the omega-3 status of canines as a new and unique method for petfood producers to determine how well dogs can utilize different sources and levels of omega-3 in their food.

Svindland holds a candidate of veterinary medicine degree from the Norwegian College of Veterinary Medicine and is a PhD-fellow of Immunology at the Medical Faculty, University of Bergen. She is first author of several articles in peer reviewed journals of immunology and has delivered scientific presentations worldwide.

Marketing/new product development:

Trends and news in the pet market: considerations for business planning —Joel Adamson, Senior Consultant for Brakke Consulting, outlines changes affecting the petfood industry—including consumer attitudes, pet owner behavior, distribution channels, Internet usage and more—and how insights into these changes can help you in strategic and tactical planning for your business.

Adamson has significant experience in management, business development and marketing. Before joining Brakke, he served as senior vice president for a leading company in the companion animal health care and pet supplies sector. He has served on the board of directors of the American Pet Products Association for 10 years. Adamson has an engineering degree and a master of business administration degree from the University of Nebraska.


Manufacturing procedures for natural and organic jerky pet treats —Kohl Danielle Schrader, PhD, Food Processing Technologist for Marlen International, explains the basics of meat science, microbiology, non-meat ingredients, manufacturing methods and thermal processing/dehydration techniques in developing popular, natural and organic jerky pet treats and producing safe, high-quality products efficiently and effectively.

Schrader holds a doctorate in meat science from Iowa State University and has extensive experience in the production of sausage and processed meats including fresh, smoked, “naturally cured” and dry and semi-dry meat products. In her role, she assists meat processors and pet treat producers with resolving quality, manufacturing and thermal processing failures, food safety compliance and regulatory support, as well as new product development and market launches.

Petfood safety:

Validating ozone as a sanitizing agent in pneumatic conveying pipelines —Jonathon Thorn, Executive Director of Process Technology for Schenck Process, describes a project to validate O3 gas (ozone) as a sanitizing agent on piping components and typical airtight conveying lines, and addresses the logistics of generating O3, a strong oxidizing agent, for introduction and remediation.

Thorn holds a master’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Pittsburgh, where he focused on pneumatic conveying related studies. With over 17 years of industry experience, he works in many facets of application, design and R&D as it relates to dry materials processing. Thorn has been with Schenck Process (formerly Mac Process) for over 15 years.

3:05-3:45 pm  Coffee break in exhibit hall

3:45-4:30 pm  Concurrent sessions 3


The new AAFCO calorie content statement regulations: does your product label comply? —David A. Dzanis, DVM, PhD, DACVN, CEO of Regulatory Discretion Inc., explains the new regulations enacted by the Association of American Feed Control Officials to mandate calorie content statements on all dog and cat food labels. With the grace period for enforcement ending soon, petfood, treat and supplement manufacturers must take certain steps to ensure they comply.

Dzanis is a board-certified veterinary nutritionist and heads Regulatory Discretion Inc., a consulting company for the petfood and related industries in matters relating to nutrition and regulation. Prior to his move to private consulting, he served as a veterinary nutritionist for the Food and Drug Administration for eight years. He writes the monthly Petfood Insights column for Petfood Industry magazine.

Marketing/new product development:

Structured product development in its strategic setting —Marcel Blok, Founder of Change Stranamics, describes how fitting a structured product development (SPD) program into your business strategy is the best way help achieve long-term objectives and support the corporate image you aim to have or reach. He presents (and answers) the five essential questions regarding SPD.

Blok has more than 30 years of experience in the pet industry in senior marketing positions, including as the founder and first president of Iams International, interim managing director for a food processing company in the Netherlands and as consultant to top US and European industry leaders as well as family-owned companies. Blok has a degree from the Rotterdam Business School.


How to avoid product degradation in petfood handling —Benny Simonsen, Manager of Technology and Business Development for Graintec A/S, proposes new solutions to prevent breakage and fines creation of product during storage and handling, which can cause loss of line capacity and reduced quality of your final petfood product.

Simonsen has more than 25 years of experience in the international aquafeed and petfood industries, with work in project planning, business and product development. He has written or co-authored articles on energy recovery in processing and mechanical durability of feed pellets. His professional organizations include the American Society for Engineering in Agriculture, Food and Biological Systems and the Renewable Energy Network in Denmark.

Petfood safety:

Microbial process control solutions for the petfood industry —Michael Wendorf, MS, MPH, Senior Technical Advisor of Microbiology for Neogen Corp., demonstrates how selection of the correct tools for a petfood production facility’s microbiological control program can impact food quality and food safety successes as well as protect brand integrity.

Wendorf has worked with Neogen Corp. for nearly 15 years in various microbiology related roles, including as manager of technical services and senior research scientist. Previously, he worked in project management and market development for Pathogen Diagnostics. He holds a bachelor of science in biochemistry, a master of science in food safety and a master of public health, all from Michigan State University.

4:35-5:20 pm   Concurrent sessions 4


Marine algae as an alternative for improving cognitive function of senior dogs —Jeff Alix, Global Pet Nutrition Marketing Manager for DSM Nutritional Products, describes the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids for dogs, along with new research studying the effects of marine microalgae, a rich source of omega-3s, on visual and memory function in older dogs.

With a career in the petfood industry spanning more than 30 years, Alix has gained experience across a wide array of functional disciplines, previously serving as a research scientist at Nestlé PetCare and as a technical support and product development manager at Bioproducts. At DSM Nutritional Products, he has held positions in sales, business development and marketing. Alix has a bachelor of science in chemistry with extensive training in food science.

Marketing/new product development:

Feline bitter receptors: a journey from DNA to electronic tongue —Nancy E. Rawson, PhD, Senior Director of Innovation and Basic Research at AFB International, highlights the differences between human and feline bitter taste experience and shows how to apply these learnings to develop a more accurate feline flavor perception profile via an electronic tongue, helping improve palatability in cat foods with bitter taste components.

Rawson focuses on developing and managing research to understand the biological and behavioral drivers of flavor preference. Previously, she served as chief scientific officer at WellGen Inc., as a member of the Monell Chemical Senses Center and as a nutritionist at Campbell Soup Co. Rawson holds multiple patents for technologies in taste and olfaction and earned a master of science in nutrition from the University of Massachusetts and a doctorate in biology from the University of Pennsylvania.


Evolution of petfood manufacturing equipment and process controls in a post-FSMA world —Brian Streit, Director of Pet Food & Aquatic Technology for Wenger Manufacturing, examines the continual challenges faced by petfood manufacturers with the introduction and implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), including achieving efficient operations with the demands of increased cleaning and sanitation and the associated downtime.

Streit focuses on process and technology development for the petfood and aquatic industries as well as process auditing and client technical support. Previously, he served as vice president of manufacturing for a major petfood manufacturer. A Kansas State University Milling Science & Management bachelor of science graduate, he has spent nearly 20 years in the petfood and flour milling industries.

Petfood safety:

An alternate surrogate for Salmonella in validation studies of low water activity petfoods —Derrick A. Bautista, PhD, Corporate Microbiologist for Big Heart Pet Brands, and Erdogan Ceylan, PhD, Research Director with Silliker Inc., describe a study to investigate a possible alternative to Enterococcus faecium as a surrogate in testing for Salmonella. While E. faecium has been validated as a surrogate for the almond industry, other food sectors and the petfood industry have encountered problems with it. Data from this new study suggest a more suitable surrogate.

Bautista received a master of science and doctorate from the University of Guelph in Canada. After spending time in academia, he held several international positions in food safety and quality with Nestlé. At Del Monte Foods, Bautista has held his current position for three years, supporting both consumer and petfood products.

Ceylan received his master of science and doctorate in food microbiology from Kansas State University. Prior to joining Silliker Inc., he served as director of research of Food Safety Systems LLC. In his current role, he is responsible for managing the research program. Ceylan is a member of several professional societies and has published articles in peer-reviewed journals and magazines.

5:20-6:45 pm  Reception in exhibit hall

6:00-6:45 pm   Poster reception in exhibit hall

Wednesday, April 29

7:30 am-4:30 pm  Registration desk open

7:30-8:30 am  Breakfast

8:30 am-3:00 pm  Exhibit hall and networking lounge open

8:30-9:15 am   Concurrent sessions 5


Nutritional benefits of pulse ingredients from the dry milling process in petfood —Mehmet Tulbek, PhD, Director of Research and Development for AGT Food and Ingredients Inc., explains the potential nutritional and technological benefits of pulses and pulse ingredients, reviews past feeding and clinical research data and presents preliminary research findings of glycemic index, insulemic and adverse health impacts of pea, lentil and faba bean starches on dog and cat metabolism.

Tulbek leads product development, application, strategic pipeline projects, technical services and serves as regulatory affairs expert of AGT’s R&D group. He holds a bachelor of science in agricultural engineering with an emphasis on food science and technology from Ankara University, a master of science in food engineering from Istanbul Technical University and a doctorate in cereal science from North Dakota State University.

Marketing/new product development:

Petfood retailing 2020 —John Stanley, President of John Stanley Associates, provides a road map for developing and changing your business to meet a new market influenced by the Millennial generation, new technology and the changing face of retailing and product distribution. Thanks to these influences, market experts predict retailing will change more in the next five years than in our lifetime previously.

Stanley is a certified speaking professional with the National Speakers Association, specializing in retailing marketing presentations, and has been recognized among the top 10% of speakers in the world. He is the author of Just About Everything a Retail Manager Needs to Know as well as a regular contributor to pet retail magazines around the world.


Benefits of using freshly prepared meat in dry petfoods with novel meat processing and extrusion technologies —Aboubakry Diallo, PhD, Research Associate at the University of Nottingham, demonstrates that it is possible to take high moisture meat and fifth-quarter animal ingredients of known source and quality through pasteurization, concentration and then thermal extrusion methods to produce dry petfoods comparable to traditional products incorporating dried meat meal.

Diallo holds a bachelor of science in biochemistry and a doctorate in food sciences. Currently, he is supporting a knowledge transfer partnership between the University of Nottingham and GA Petfood Partners. Diallo is a board member of Cereals & Europe (the European section of AACCI) and part of the organizing committee of the European Young Cereal Scientists and Technologists Workshop.

Petfood safety:

Automating food safety and QA to achieve continuous improvement, audit readiness and a best-in-class operation —Eric Johansen, Quality Manager for Wilbur-Ellis, presents a case study from the user’s perspective on how and why it makes sense to employ technology to automate food safety and quality processes in a petfood facility.

Johansen has held leadership positions in food safety and quality for over 30 years, with expertise in HACCP, food safety, quality systems, food sciences and food safety automation project leadership. He holds several professional certifications from the American Society for Quality.

9:20-10:05 am  Concurrent sessions 6


Potential benefits of b(1-3)-D-glucans for dogs —Vaclav Vetvicka, PhD, Professor of Pathology at the University of Louisville, reveals new research indicating, for the first time, that glucans regulate blood glucose and improve immune status in dogs. While glucans have a long history as natural immunomodulators, evaluations of these effects in dogs to date have been severely limited.

Vetvicka is author or co-author of more than 210 original papers and eight books. His main research interests include the effects of glucan on immune reactions and overall health in animals, from farmed animals to pets. He has also supervised several clinical trials of glucan in children. Vetvicka has presented more than 30 invited lectures in the US, France, Spain, Turkey and Czech Republic.

Marketing/new product development:

FDA’s new guidelines on nanotechnology —Ray Matulka, PhD, Director of Toxicology for the Burdock Group, summarizes current knowledge of the potential advantages conferred by nanotechnology on food and dietary supplements, extending the information to petfood. In light of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) new guidelines on nanotechnology, he discusses potential benefits and risks of nanotechnology for pets.

Matulka earned a doctorate in toxicology from the Medical College of Virginia and has post-doctoral experience at the Boston University School of Medicine and University of North Carolina. Matulka has industry experience at the Nebraska Department of Environmental Control and as a senior genetic toxicologist at Genesys Research. He is co-author of two book chapters and has authored 20 publications.


Future proofing your retort room: new packaging for new petfood products —Greg Jacob, Vice President/General Manager of Allpax Products, describes new technology and strategy options to prepare wet petfood plants for present or future movement toward integrating semi rigid or flexible containers into existing or new lines.

Jacob joined Allpax in 1995, first serving as project manager and operations manager before assuming his current role in 2006. Previously, he was co-owner of Warriner Controls, an instrumentation and controls service organization for the food industry. Jacob holds a bachelor degree in history from the University of New Orleans and has authored multiple technical white papers and articles for the food and beverage industry.

Petfood safety:

New approaches to accurately measure B vitamins in petfoods —John Szpylka, PhD, Director of Chemistry North America with Silliker Laboratories, addresses a fundamental question for the petfood industry: What are the best methods to test products for vitamins to assure health claims and nutrition labels? Can faster, more specific chemistry methods with significantly higher accuracy and precision measure all the different vitamins in all their individual forms and at the low levels typically found?

Szpylka manages nutritional method development for Silliker Laboratories and is the technical leader for chemistry testing in North America. Previously, he was a principal scientist with General Mills for 21 years and is immediate past chair of the AOAC Official Methods Board. Szpylka received his doctorate in analytical chemistry from Ohio State University and a bachelor of science in chemistry from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

10:05-10:45 am  Coffee break in exhibit hall

10:45 am-12:00 pm  Time in exhibit hall

12:00-1:30 pm  Lunch

1:30-2:45  Discussion session: A call to action: building your petfood future and workforce through industry-academic partnerships —led by Greg Aldrich, PhD, Research Associate Professor at Kansas State University and President of Pet Food Ingredients & Technology. Panelists include Lafe Bailey, Co-CEO and President of Sales and Business Development for Wenger Group; Mary Ellen Barkley, Assistant Director of Career & Employment Services for Kansas State University; Ben Bowen, Executive Director of Global Quality and Customer Laboratory Services for Kemin; Jarrod Kersey, PhD, Director of Scientific and Regulatory Affairs for Mars Petcare US and the Nutro Co.; and Rick Shields, Executive Vice President of Technical Services for Simmons Pet Food.

The commercial petfood industry takes pride in its self-reliance, not taking government support but building its own R&D facilities, funding its own nutrition research, finding talented, knowledgeable people for its workforce and cultivating messages that complement and support the integration of pets further into our homes and lives. Today the industry is at a turning point in its development trajectory and needs specific technology, empirical evidence and effective systems to guide regulations and a pipeline of young professionals to fill the workforce as our current industry leaders and workers approach retirement. The place for all this to happen is at our universities, but it will require industry leadership and collaboration with leading institutions of higher learning.

2:45-3:30 pm  Coffee break

3:30-4:30 pm  Closing keynote : The Flying Houndz Frizbee Trick Dog Show  wraps up the conference portion of Petfood Forum with an energetic performance by canine Frisbee stars, including rescue dogs. The owners of the group, Jeff and Misty Wright, explain how they started and why they work with rescue dogs and promote responsible pet ownership.

Since 2009, the Flying Houndz Frizbee Trick Dog Show has entertained audiences across the US at state fairs, sporting events and on TV shows such as Good Morning America and the Today Show. Previously, Jeff Wright worked as a behavior specialist with a humane society, and the couple have a passion for fostering and rescuing dogs. They founded the first Frisbee club in Louisville and have gradually added dogs—including several rescues—to their family and team of canine performers.

3:00-12:00 pm  Exhibitor tear-down

5:00-8:00 pm   Closing reception barbeque and Taste of Kansas City

Thursday, April 30

Optional, private tours to Sabetha, Kansas State University and around Kansas City

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