KANSAS CITY, MO. — In March 2023, Pet Food Processing launched its own podcast, More Than Kibble, to enhance its efforts to inform the pet food and treat industry. Since then, the monthly podcast has provided listeners with a wealth of insights, from overcoming supply chain challenges and trends fueling industry-wide investments to a behind-the-scenes look into product development and academic nutritional research, as well as timely industry updates.

With 10 episodes already in the books, and more to come, More Than Kibble will continue to share insights from a wide range of industry experts, all with the goal of advancing the pet nutrition industry.

Read the below for a full year’s recap on all episodes of More Than Kibble.


Inside CRB’s Horizons: Pet Food Report

In the first episode of More Than Kibble, Tony Moses, Ph.D., director of product innovation and fellow at CRB, kicked off the podcast by sharing insights from CRB’s “Horizons: Pet Food Report.” The episode took a deep dive into capital spending trends throughout the pet food industry, as well as product development opportunities and sustainability initiatives.

“When you look at the data, you’re seeing producers coming back and over half are looking to spend between five and 10 million on capital projects,” Moses said in the episode.

Listen to the full episode, “Inside CRB’s Horizons: Pet Food Report.”


Pet spending trend, insights and opportunities

The American Pet Products Association (APPA) took over the second episode of More Than Kibble. Pete Scott, president and chief executive officer, and Anne Ferrante, senior vice president, discussed the association’s latest research and trends expected to underpin the industry’s future, as well as those seen across the show floor at Global Pet Expo 2023.

“Now we know a good part of these gains in 2023 will be inflationary, but, of course, some of it will be real gains,” Ferrante said during the episode. “We’ve been through this before; in 2008 and 2009 the industry came out strong out of a recession and we’ll do it again.”

Listen to the full episode, “Pet spending trends, insights and opportunities.”


Navigating the supply chain

Focusing on the volatile supply chain environment, Dana Peirson, partner and supply chain expert at The Partnering Group, joined the third episode. Peirson shared her insights on the industry’s most pressing supply chain challenges, and how processors and suppliers can collaborate to overcome for the better.

“We’ve seen great companies do really good failure mode analysis on equipment, but having that kind of lens and approach to the supply chain has been a real shift we’ve noticed people start making,” Peirson said in the episode. “Understanding where things can fail, what’s the likelihood that it fails, and what you can do it about when that happens.”

Listen to the full episode, “Navigating the supply chain.”


Exploring sustainable opportunities

Homing in on the trending topic of sustainability, Co-Founder and Senior Advisor of the Pet Sustainability Coalition (PSC) Caitlyn Dudas was a guest for the fourth episode. During the episode, Dudas spoke to the importance of sustainability in the pet and pet food industries, how the PSC works with processors, suppliers and retailers to advance industry-wide environmental efforts, the pet food industry’s biggest environmental opportunities, and much more.

“Sustainability is a very broad and holistic term; it can mean so many different things to so many different people,” Dudas shared during the episode. “And sometimes that can be a cause for inaction because of the complicated nature of it. But one of the goals for us [PSC] is to really help every member company identify and define what is most impactful in our business — what are our biggest opportunities.”

Listen to the full episode, “Exploring sustainable opportunities.”


Preparing the industry for pet food label modernization

Austin Therrell, executive director of the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), joined the fifth episode of More Than Kibble to talk about an extremely important topic: pet food label modernization (PFLM). With AAFCO to approve these new label regulations later in the year, this timely episode educated processors and packaging suppliers on the latest changes under PFLM, plans for implementation, foreseen challenges and more.

“As we look ahead… AAFCO will be recommending that our members and states utilize a six-year enforcement discretion period,” Therrell said. “For the next six years states will start undertaking legislative processes and state programs will use discretion when reviewing pet food labels. So, for six years states will accept old labels as well as the new labels, as the industry goes ahead and starts working towards making [PFLM] updates.”

Listen to the full episode, “Preparing the industry for pet food label modernization.”


Product development from concept to commercialization

With consumers demanding more functional pet foods and newer formats, Leah Lambrakis, vice president of research and development, nutrition and scientific affairs for Simmons Pet Food, shared her extensive insights in product development in the sixth episode of More Than Kibble. From being mindful of human food influences to continuous product optimization, Lambrakis provided guidance for processors seeking to create innovative products that meet consumer demand.

“Often we get a lot of our ideas from the creativity and the new products we see in the [human food] market, but it’s not so simple just to create a like product,” Lambrakis said during the conversation. “We have to think about cats and dogs as individual species, they have very different feeding preferences, physiology, palatability, and flavor likes and dislikes. We have to think about not just how appropriate it is, but also that we are normally feeding our pets a complete-and-balanced diet once or twice a day. So, innovating also requires us to think about the animal’s nutritional requirements and how they approach their food from odor, texture, palatability, digestibility, etc.”

Listen to the full episode, “Product development from concept to commercialization.”


A recap on SUPERZOO 2023

Following one of the industry’s largest tradeshows, SUPERZOO 2023, Vic Mason, president of the World Pet Association (WPA), provided a recap on the show. The successful show, organized by WPA, showcased the latest innovations and included informative educational sessions, grooming competitions and more, all discussed by Mason in this episode. Mason also talked about SUPERZOO’s evolving purpose to support good husbandry throughout the pet industry, and provided a sneak peek for SUPERZOO 2024.

“It’s so easy to come to SUPERZOO and see these giant booths — well, all of those guys started in small ways,” Mason said. “So many of the big brands that you see today were people that I was introduced to 20 to 30 years ago. So, really the lifeblood to the industry is new people coming in and new companies coming in.”

Listen to the full episode, “A recap on SUPERZOO 2023.”


Challenges ahead for pet food label regulation

Following the passage of PFLM by AAFCO in July, the Pet Food Institute (PFI) raised the alarm for pet food processors. In the eighth episode of More Than Kibble, Dana Brooks, president and chief executive officer of the PFI, shared how the association will help support the industry through these latest changes, as well as expected challenges and the potential to streamline regulations for the industry in the future.   

“From a 50-state survey conducted by AAFCO, only five states will immediately adopt the changes to the PFLM,” Brooks revealed during the episode. “That is daunting for our industry because we’ve spent a lot of time and resources working to put together what we believe, through consumer surveys, what is the best label for consumers. When we make these changes as an industry, we need all states to adopt it.”

Listen to the full episode, “Challenges ahead for pet food label regulation.”

Companion animal research drives industry innovations

A litany of innovations entering the market this year, from unique formats to highly functional products. However, none such innovations would be possible without the help of research. In this episode, researchers from the University of Guelph — Anna Kate Shoveller, Ph.D., Alexandra Rankovic, Ph.D., and current Ph.D. student Sydney Banton — talked about their latest research in pet health and nutrition. From amino acid requirements, the usage of choline in treating pet obesity, pulse ingredients’ impacts on DCM, and more, these researchers also discussed the importance of collaboration between industry and academia in furthering pet health and wellness.

“If I was to encourage the industry to think about one thing, I would love the industry to commit to putting a pool of money together to answer critical questions that we need to know about dogs’ and cats’ basic physiology and metabolism to support research and the various academic labs,” Shoveller said in the episode. “It would be great for the industry also to pool some of their money to allow us to ask those fundamental research questions that would help everyone.”

Listen to the full episode, “Companion animal research drives industry innovations.”


Actionable consumer insights from a pet industry thought leader

Wrapping up the year, Michael Johnson, principal at BSM Partners, took a deep dive into consumer insights in the tenth episode of More Than Kibble. He offered his perspective on the impacts of inflation, evolving consumer demands, the image of the “pet parent,” the pros and cons of the humanization movement, and much more.

“While human beings are definitely the buyers, we are not the consumers for most of these pet products, but since we’re the ones buying, we look for products that seem interesting to us,” Johnson shared. “…In pet, if it doesn’t seem appealing to me as a human-being buyer, then I’m not going to give it much of a go for my pet, who is the actual consumer. So, humanization is really a powerful force in our industry because as long as sounds good to us, or something that we would use, we like it.”

Listen to the full episode, “Actionable consumer insights from a pet industry thought leader.”

Thanks for tuning in to More Than Kibble in 2023, and keep an eye out for future episodes here.

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