Are you looking to make innovative, nutritious pet food that disrupts the industry and wins brand advocates? Consumers have a ton of choices when it comes to feeding their furry friends. Organic, grain-free, raw—the list goes on as long as the pet grocery aisle.
The majority of pet food products fall into one of two categories: dry kibble and canned, wet food. These are by far the most popular, but they also present the largest areas of opportunity for pet food producers to improve their products with freeze-dried ingredients.
Issues facing dry pet food
As you probably know, the most common form of dog and cat food is dry kibble. With grain-free and organic options, consumers can decide what’s best for their pet. Most dry pet food producers use a standard process to create dry kibble, but their recipes are all their own. On the whole, many dry kibbles have similar issues they struggle to overcome in the eyes of consumers.
- Transparency of ingredients is a prominent problem for pet food. Consumers want to know where their pet products are coming from. Many pet foods use meat byproducts from processing for human consumption, like bones and organs, but where those parts come from is often unclear to the end user.
- Kibble often uses fillers, like rice, wheat, or corn. When consumers see these ingredients listed on the packaging, they may assume the nutritional balance is off or the product is of lower quality. This is an opportunity to add new ingredients that offer nutritional value.
- Dry kibble often has a lower percentage of animal-based proteins. While some styles of pet food can be created almost entirely from animal protein, dry kibble is not one of them—which is especially a concern for cats, who require a high-protein diet. Classic pet food recipes use grains and cereals to create a dough, leaving more room for fillers or binders, and less room for protein. As consumers demand grain-free options, innovative approaches to dry kibble must be used, like the addition of plant-based protein, instead of grains.
Problems facing canned wet food
Usually seen as a luxury pet food, canned wet food has a high moisture and protein content. Again, while many brands have a similar process for processing dry pet food, their recipes and ingredients vary. As the pet food market grows and changes, canned foods have a different set of challenges to overcome.
- As with dry food, ingredient transparency is an issue for wet pet food brands. Wet pet food is primarily made of meat byproducts humans won’t consume, like animal parts, bones, and organs. It’s usually set in gravy or water, with salt, preservatives, stabilizers, and gels added to preserve the food and control the moisture content. Ensuring a clean, ethical, and natural source of ingredients is necessary for all pet food brands to build trust with their consumers, especially when it comes to canned food.
- Wet pet food is more expensive than other dry options. Aside from the ingredients, the canning process itself takes more energy, making it inherently more expensive. The packaging and high protein content increase the costs as well, which reflects in the final sale price. With lower-priced options on the market, wet pet food brands must strive to decrease their production costs in order to compete.
- The ingredients used in wet pet food have a short shelf life. Since wet pet food is primarily made of animal protein, it must be purchased, transported, processed, and preserved in a short time frame. It also must be consumed by pets within a couple hours of opening to avoid bacterial contamination. This increases prices across the board, and is inconvenient for pet food producers and the consumers buying it.
Opportunities for pet food in freeze-drying
While every product has individual issues it contends with, freeze-dried ingredients are in a unique position to benefit brands across the board, both in dry kibble and wet canned food. Between freeze-dried animal protein and a wide variety of freeze-dried vegetables pets will love, Mercer’s freeze-dried contributions can help brands improve their products:
- Freeze-dried ingredients add transparency to every product. When you add freeze-dried cranberries to your pet food, you’re adding naturally grown, unadulterated berries. No sulfites or preservatives are added, and you can easily track where those berries were grown. By incorporating freeze-dried ingredients into pet food, you quickly add some transparency to your product.
- Freeze-dried vegetables are a nutritious alternative to grain and cereal-based fillers. They can diversify your pet food products while adding a nice balance of antioxidants and other vitamins and nutrients.
- Freeze-dried vegetables are a way to increase the protein content of your product. Peas, spinach, and broccoli in particular are wonderful sources of plant-based protein. These alternative protein options are particularly useful in dog food, as dogs are (adapted) omnivores thriving on nutritionally diverse diets.
- Freeze-dried ingredients are an avenue to lowering operating costs. Freeze-dried goods are lightweight, making them inexpensive to transport. Their long shelf life also means they can be ordered in advance, and can be stored for later use.
No matter what food you make, naturally gluten-free, preservative-free freeze-dried ingredients can help you make pet food products you and your customers can have confidence in. If you’re ready to add transparency and nutrition to your pet food, contact us at Mercer or get in touch via Facebook or LinkedIn and let’s get started.