Over the past two years, individuals representing various sectors of the pet food and rendering industries have met twice a year to collaborate on some of the challenges and opportunities they see for these industries. This began at Colorado State University (CSU), Fort Collins, Colorado, in December 2017 at the first meeting of the Pet Food Alliance (PFA). This past January, about 85 members of PFA gathered in Colorado where CSU’s Department of Animal Sciences hosted the PFA Winter Meeting.
PFA has been funded in large part by the Fats and Protein Research Foundation, whose mission is to fund research that helps ensure a strong future for the rendering industry and its industry partners. “It was a natural connection for the rendering industry and the pet food industry to join forces to get better and they’ve done that quite successfully during the past two years through PFA,” said Jennifer Martin, Ph.D., assistant professor, Center for Meat Safety and Quality, Department of Animal Sciences at CSU. Martin kicked off the winter meeting with a little history on PFA.
At the table
This alliance for research and innovation in the pet food and rendering industries started with around 30 members and has grown to more than 100. One of the fundamental components of the PFA originally was to not only combine members of the pet food industry and the rendering industry but combine efforts with the academic communities that have interests in these industries as well. “The overarching goals of the alliance are to develop additional collaborations within the pet food industry, increase the funding resources and most importantly expand ideas — explore both the issues and also the opportunities that may exist from the challenges that we face,” Martin said.
She explains that there were two pivotal ideas that led to the development of PFA: research should be guided by industry input to develop implementable solutions; and all players should be at the table. “It makes sense that if we’re going to conduct research that benefits both the pet food and the rendering industries, then bring everyone together and discuss the challenges and opportunities and come up with ideas that can be explored to generate solutions,” Martin said.
Initially, attendees identified a few important challenges facing both industries and, out of that effort, working groups were established to explore opportunities for addressing these challenges. Currently the PFA working groups are addressing three concerns: Salmonella and product safety; sustainability of the pet food and rendering industries and consumer perception; and oxidation and product quality.
According to Martin, research and networking have consistently been what members hope to gain from attending the PFA meetings. Each meeting has provided time for building new relationships and enhancing those that already exist. “This network started with a core group of people very committed to making PFA successful and as it has continued growing the network has gotten bigger and the relationships are even stronger,” Martin said. “I think long-term that’s going to have a very important impact on our industries.”
The momentum seems to be growing on this collaborative effort focused on the betterment of the pet food and rendering industries. In addition to a new website, PFA will have a new meeting format the next time it convenes June 26-28, 2019. The location has not yet been announced. More information on PFA can be found at https://fprfalliance.agsci.colostate.edu/.