LAS VEGAS — Wild Earth, Inc., the maker of koji-protein dog treats, launched its first dog food product at SuperZoo, to be sold by independent US pet retailers starting in September. The complete-and-balanced diet for dogs is meatless, utilizing yeast protein as a main ingredient and source of protein, according to the company.

Using a fermentation process, fungal yeasts are transformed into concentrated yeasts then incorporated into Wild Earth’s dog food as a source of protein, B vitamins, fiber and antioxidants. According to the company, it only takes three days to turn yeast proteins into a finished dog food product and the process requires fewer resources, making it highly scalable and environmentally sustainable.

“A common misconception is that dogs need animal meat in their diet, but what they truly need is protein,” said Dr. Ernie Ward, chief veterinary officer at Wild Earth. “And protein is readily available to dogs from a variety of plant and fungi-based sources. In fact, many would be surprised to learn that the fungal proteins used by Wild Earth contain more protein per gram than beef.”

Each serving contains 31% complete protein, of which the main source is yeast. The diet contains other ingredients such as oats, sweet potatoes, chickpeas, blueberries, pumpkin and spinach. Wild Earth’s yeast-protein dog food does not contain corn, soy or rice and is free from artificial flavors or preservatives. It does include added taurine, DHC and carnitine. 

Wild Earth's novel fungal protein, koji, which is used in its first dog treats, is also incorporated in the company's new dog diet, but nutritional yeast was the most accessible and scalable option to apply in a complete and balanced diet, according to Abril Estrada, head of operations for Wild Earth

“We just kept seeing all these benefits to using yeast that were both nutritional and scale-related, so it just seemed like the right choice for us," Estrada added.

According to Wild Earth, the dried yeast cultures incorporated in this dog diet are an Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) approved pet food ingredient: 91.6 (IFN 7-05-533: Yeast, dried) and are classified as Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).The formula is designed specifically for adult dogs.

The development of Wild Earth’s vegan dog diet was backed by more than $16 million in Series A funding, led by VegInvest, and an additional $550,000 investment by business mogul and Shark Tank judge Mark Cuban.

“I invested in Wild Earth because they have the potential to transform the pet food industry just like Beyond Meat has transformed the meat industry,” Cuban said. “The release of their first flagship product, a clean, high-protein dog food, is a huge milestone for the whole pet food industry.”

The idea for a vegan dog diet was born about a year ago, and Wild Earth began developing it in late 2018.

“The main difference [from other vegan dog foods] is the fungal protein, which allows us to bring up the protein content by a lot," Estrada said. "Because we’re using fungal protein, we also have a really good dietary fiber in there that you won’t find in plant-based diets."

The dog food will be distributed by United Pacific Pet (UPP) in California, Nevada, Arizona and Hawaii. It will also be available direct-to-consumer on Wild Earth’s website.

Wild Earth, headquartered in Berkeley, California, is exhibiting its yeast-protein dog food at booth 565 during SuperZoo from through Aug. 22 in Las Vegas.

Read more about product development, ingredients and formulation.