“When pet parents grab their favorite pet food or treat from the pet food aisle, it's easy to take for granted what it took to get those pet foods onto the shelf,” said Kimberlie Clyma, editor of Pet Food Processing in her opening to the sixth episode of More Than Kibble. “So much research and development and formulating and testing has to go into the creation of pet foods and treats before they're ever packaged and sold.”

It’s true — research and development can be a daunting task, involving a multitude of experts spanning food science, process engineering, marketing and regulatory, and formulators aren’t always successful the first time around.

In this latest episode, Clyma is joined by Leah Lambrakis, vice president of research and development, nutrition and scientific affairs for Simmons Pet Food. With nearly a quarter-century of experience in companion animal nutrition, Lambrakis is well versed in the challenges that come with formulating new products, reformulating existing ones, and doing so in a way that optimizes nutritional value and spurs delight for Simmons’ many clients — not only the brands it serves, but the dogs and cats at the end of the line.

“There is no greater reward for my team than to see their creation be successful,” Lambrakis said. “Whether that’s a positive palatability study where we truly delighted the animals, or it’s a high digestibility result that validated our nutritional design… seeing our customers happy that we hit the mark on that project tells us that we really did our jobs right.”


Show notes

(0:38) Introducing Leah Lambrakis of Simmons Pet Food

(1:16) A day in the life of a product developer

(3:41) Taking a multidisciplinary approach to product development

(6:20) The importance of continued portfolio optimization

(8:45) Being mindful about human food influences

(10:14) Celebrating successes

(11:44) Product development as a collaborative effort

(12:21) Getting prepared for new pet food label guidelines

(15:02) How brands can communicate label changes to consumers

(15:57) Advice for tomorrow’s pet food professionals

(17:19) Taking trial and error in stride

(18:14) Winning over the pet parent and the pet


Listen to other episodes of More Than Kibble.

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