This article was published in Pet Food Processing’s October 2022 Buyers Guide. Read it and other articles from this issue in our October 2022 Buyers Guide. 

With its membership representing the vast majority of all pet food and treat production in the United States, Pet Food Institute (PFI) remains active on several fronts to keep the industry informed on changing regulations and legislative impacts.

“It is critical that companies that make pet food engage in the policy making process, and PFI strives to represent our members in policy discussions to ensure the industry can continue to provide safe, complete-and-balanced nutrition to pets,” said Dana Brooks, president and chief executive officer of PFI.

Moving forward, PFI’s top three priorities will be centered around supply chain issues — including the tax incentives for the use of animal fats and oils in the production of renewable diesel and the impact on the pet food supply chain — as well as sustainability and improvements to the new ingredient approval process.

State and federal lawmakers have enacted mandates and tax incentives for the use of plant- and animal-based oils and fats for renewable diesel production, much to the chagrin of the animal food industry. These policies have placed pet food producers at a market disadvantage, as they must now compete with renewable fuel producers and the human food ingredient supply chain for dog and cat food ingredients that are essential to complete-and-balanced nutrition.

“While other industries enjoy tax credits for their commodity’s use in renewable fuel, US pet food and human food makers are struggling to source the same products that are necessary ingredients in pet food,” said Betsy Flores, senior vice president of public policy.

To address this need, the organization’s “Feed People and Pets First” campaign is rallying industry members to urge Congress to halt these policies in favor of pet food and human food supply chains.

“Supply chain and renewable diesel issues will continue to be a concern in the coming year,” said Betsy Flores, senior vice president of public policy at Pet Food Institute.

In an effort to demonstrate the industry’s sustainability efforts, PFI has established a Sustainability Working Group. From this information, the institute’s Public Relations Committee will develop messaging that highlights the industry’s efforts around responsible ingredient sourcing, production efficiencies and overall economic support. PFI will stay abreast of changing plastics legislation and communicate any impact to industry members

“Our goal is to be a convener and collaborator to bring the right people to the table to discuss ways to help address the impact of packaging and plastics legislation,” said Savonne Caughey, senior director of advocacy and government relations.

Streamlining the new ingredient approval process through the US Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (FDA CVM) is also on the agenda for PFI. The current process is time-consuming and expensive, taking up to five years for an ingredient to gain approval. PFI recently heralded its support of an amendment dedicating $8 million in funding to the FDA CVM, which would help expedite the approval process for new, innovative pet food and feed ingredients.

“A key example of this is the use of insect proteins,” Brooks said. “Currently, there is tentative approval to use only one ingredient — black soldier fly larvae — in dog food. However, there are other high-quality insect proteins that could be used in pet foods if the approval process were more efficient and harmonized. This delays bringing highly sustainable ingredients to market at a time when the government is seeking to reduce carbon emissions.”

The “big issue” for 2023 will be pet food label modernization, according to Pat Tovey, senior director of food safety and regulatory compliance. PFI will work closely with AAFCO to keep its members informed of any significant pet food labeling and packaging updates.

“Through bringing the expertise and knowledge of our membership to those who are responsible for laying the legislative and regulatory foundation for the pet food industry, PFI ensures that our members have a seat at the table,” Brooks said.

Read more news from associations and agencies in the pet food sector.