As more consumers and businesses focus on sustainability, one area that is beginning to gain more attention is food waste. According to a report by WWF and Tesco, about 40% of all human food produced in the world is lost or wasted.
Animal food is not part of the problem, however. actually offers solutions. Think upcycling, or “creating a new, high-quality product from surplus food,” the Upcycling Food Association (UFA) defines it. From the direct use of processed food in pet food and pet food, which has been around for several years, to newer processes and products such as the California Safe Soil (CSS) kit and the conversion of supermarket fruits, vegetables and meat into pet food ingredients, animal feed. becomes a key weapon in the fight against food waste.
In fact, it always has been, even before food waste became such a problem (or, at least, before it was as well known). The long-term use of food by animal feed not intended for human consumption, including spent grains from the brewing or distilling process (such as dried distillers grains or DDGS) or meat products, which are often made into meals and similar ingredients, can be considered one of the original sources. Examples of processing:
And yet we don’t call it that. Should we?
Consumer interest in processed food, sustainable products
During a webinar presented by Dan Morath, CEO and founder of CSS (and sponsored by CSS), questions arose about the benefits of elevating consumers. He cited a study by the Food Lab at Drexel University that showed consumers’ willingness to consider what the researchers called excess value-added products, quite a lot. Clearly aware of this, the study’s authors also asked which one-word label consumers preferred for these products, and the top choice was recycled, winning out over words such as recycled, recycled, recycled, uplifted and salvaged.
However, that data was from 2017. During a recent Petfood Forum 2021 presentation, Ben Gray, then UFA’s chief innovation officer (now co-founder and strategic advisor), shared data showing that 80% of consumers “would choose processed. foods once they become familiar with them.” Furthermore, 51% of those consumers had an increased intention to purchase a product with UFA’s Upcycled Certified logo on the package versus a product without the logo.
This preference for certified products is indirectly supported by the results of other consumer surveys, including a 2022 survey by Yummypets, a French social community for pet lovers, of more than 1,500 in Belgium, Canada, France, the UK and the US. by pet owners. The findings, presented by David Palacios Rubio, editor-in-chief of GlobalPets magazine, found that only 24% of US respondents, 37.8% of French pet owners and 35.4% of British pet owners said they would pay more for an environmentally friendly pet. for the product.
At the same time, a significant majority of pet owners in all five countries, 82.2%, believe that it is important that the product is produced by an environmentally friendly company. The disconnection may be due to this. 41.7% of respondents said they were skeptical of pet food companies’ sustainability claims, and only 29.6% believed them. So a logo that shows certification that proves sustainability claims, in this scenario, can help pet food brands gain trust and confidence with pet owners.
Possibility of rebranding of by-products.
CSS has achieved the Upcycled Certified logo for its products, but has not yet reached the point where its products are mass marketed, so ingredient label claims are still up in the air. During the webinar, Morath said he and the company are working with the American Association of Feed Control Officials to seek approval for “hydrolyzed fruits and vegetables” and “hydrolyzed meats.”
Perhaps, combined with the certification logo, it could help pet food brands win over pet owners, but the term “hydrolyzed” doesn’t hold much sway in my mind. Should players in this category collaborate to promote not only “processed” ingredients like CSS, but also traditional ones like meat meals?
They have long been called byproducts, a term that has become demonized and carries negative, though imprecise, connotations. Some in the industry have suggested rebranding them as co-products, but I have to wonder if the terms “processed poultry” or “processed meat” resonate better with consumers.
Granted, there will be regulatory implications, and I’m not sure if the catering industry will see the need to invest in Upcycled Certified status. But if consumer interest in recycling, not to mention sustainability, continues, it could be a worthwhile opportunity to explore.