3 keys to bringing insect-based pet foods to U.S. market

Before insects can undergo a metamorphosis from pet treats into pet food ingredients, there must be collaboration between key stakeholders.

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(kozorog, BigStock.com)
(kozorog, BigStock.com)

Three sets of stakeholders must work together to bring insect-based pet foods to the pet food market in the United States, said Micah Kohles, DVM, vice president of veterinary science and health Oxbow Animal Health, in a video from Petfood Forum 2018.

“It's really an exciting topic,” he said. “It's something the pet industry has kind of been aware of and there's been growing interest not only within the industry. Obviously, what the industry is interested in comes from what consumers are interested in.”

Kohles doesn’t have a crystal ball to tell him when insects will appear in pet foods in the U.S., he said. However, he thinks that it’s going to happen sooner rather than later.

“It's not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when,” he said. “What it comes down to is that the market has an interest.”

Insects may offer palatability, nutritional and environmental benefits for pet food. However, the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) determined that for insects to be used in animal feed, including pet food, each insect species would need an AAFCO Feed Ingredient Definition or a generally recognized as safe (GRAS) Notification or a Food Additive Petition.

Three groups needed to bring insects to U.S. pet food market

Before insects can undergo a metamorphosis from pet treats into pet food ingredients, there must be collaboration between key stakeholders.

“One is the producers of the insect proteins and their ability to commercialize their products and to have those products ready for the market,” said Kohles.

The second group is the pet food manufacturers and equipment suppliers, such as extruder manufacturers. The feasibility of insect-based ingredients in pet food depends on their ability and willingness to use those ingredients.

Even as those two groups work to bring insects into pet food, the third set of stakeholders ultimately serve as the queen bees.

“At the foundation of all of it is the regulatory aspect of things,” he said. “So, before we can use any of these ingredients, we have to go through the right channels with AAFCO and the FDA. Really what it comes down to is safety, making sure that these ingredients are safe for the pets to eat.

“Hopefully, those key people are really going to get on board and push the effort forward,” he said.

About Petfood Forum 2019

Petfood R&D Showcase is scheduled for October 9-11, 2018 at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas. Early Bird registration is now open.

Petfood Forum is the not-to-be-missed trade show event for pet food professionals from around the world to network, exchange ideas and do business with one another and with the industry's leading pet food manufacturers and suppliers. Petfood Forum 2019 will take place at the Kansas City Convention Center in Kansas City, Missouri, USA on April 29 – May 1, 2019.

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