KANSAS CITY, MO. — Suppliers, manufacturers and academics in the pet food and rendering industries gathered May 4 and 5 for the annual Pet Food Alliance (PFA) Technical Meeting, co-located with Petfood Forum at the Kansas City Convention Center.

As evidenced in this year’s Technical Meeting, the mission of PFA is to stoke cross-industry collaboration between members of the pet food and rendering sectors and academia to build relationships, share innovations, and identify and fund research initiatives. The 2022 meeting provided opportunities to network, convene working group meetings and direct focus areas for the organization moving forward.

Pet Food Alliance meets in Kansas City for its 2022 Technical MeetingSource: Sosland Publishing Co.

“The Pet Food Alliance intentionally tries to bring together members across the spectrum of pet food and rendering with members of academia to say, ‘Here is a challenge, here is an opportunity; let’s find a solution for it. Let’s move in this direction together,’” said Jennifer Martin, Ph.D., assistant professor at the Center for Meat Safety and Quality at Colorado State University’s (CSU) Department of Animal Sciences.

“We are here to bring people to the table to find answers to problems,” she continued. “…We really believe that impactful research requires everyone at this table. New ideas, new perspectives and new experiences make for a richer research project, and a richer research project gives you implementable solutions, where you can take research that is performed through this alliance, its supporters and  members of the industry who are present in this room, and implement those findings in ways that you could see impacts within your own companies.”

Presentations and discussions centered around two topics: product safety and the standardization of industry best practices. Speakers included:

  • Jennifer Pelerin, biochemist and chemical sales associate at Quartz Analytics, who shared a collaboration between Quartz Analytics and Tyson Foods on peroxide value and free fatty acid testing of rendered protein meals;
  • Craig Coon, co-owner of Four Rivers Kennel, LLC and poultry nutritionist at the University of Arkansas, who discussed the effects of oxidation on palatability, and how peroxide value plays a role;
  • Mary Landis, industry sales manager of grain, milling and feed at FOSS North American, who shared several product inspection capabilities offered by FOSS to analyze quality and safety;
  • Scott Knowlton, North America sales manager with TOMRA Sorting Solutions’ Pet Food and Rendering division, who detailed the company’s optical sorting technologies and how they can be used to improve the safety and quality of pet food ingredients and finished products;
  • and Tammy Hogan, senior quality manager with General Mills’ Blue Buffalo pet segment, and Doug Harkness, president and general manager of American Tank Wash Partners, LLC, who discussed cross-industry opportunities to standardize tank wash instructions and options for liquid ingredient tankers.

Closing out the day’s presentations, Martin reflected on PFA’s successes and what’s next for the organization.

Martin brought up the possibility of updating PFA’s meeting structure and fine-tuning communications to accommodate better engagement and attendance, especially within the academic community. By getting aspiring students more involved in the organization, supporting engagement on academic campuses and possibly holding more frequent working group meetings, PFA hopes to maximize its positive impact in the pet food and rendering industries.

“What have we not accomplished?” Martin asked. “What do we need to really be intentional in accomplishing as we move forward?”

At the end of the day, PFA’s three working groups convened to identify specific projects for funding. All funds raised through registration fees for the Technical Meeting will be used to support research determined by these working group priorities.

Pet Food Alliance members convene in working groups to determine research funding opportunitiesSource: Sosland Publishing Co.

“When you pay to attend today’s meeting, you’re not paying for the lovely grey tote bag… You’re paying to fund research that you have the opportunity to identify as important,” Martin said. “Today, through your investment, we have raised approximately $100,000 to fund research. That’s impressive.”

The Product Safety working group continued the conversation around tank wash standards in an effort to influence future improvements. The Product Quality working group discussed surveying peroxide value testing methods to determine efficacy and best practices. The Consumer Perception and Sustainability working group considered rendered protein quality and how it is viewed by the consumer. These three priorities will guide the organization’s future research initiatives.

PFA was founded in December 2017 upon holding its first meeting at CSU. Since 2017, membership has grown from around 30 members to more than 400 across the pet food and rendering industries and academia. The organization has been funded in large part by the Fats and Protein Research Foundation, which has been historically focused on supporting research to benefit the rendering industry and adjacent stakeholders.

More information on PFA can be found at https://agsci.colostate.edu/fprfalliance/.

Read more about the Pet Food Alliance or other pet food and treat industry events.