In past years there has been a steady stream of new product developments in the pet food and treat market. Increased awareness of nutritional and technological benefits of ingredients such as fibre allows manufacturers to develop more holistic solutions.
Feeding complete foods rich in natural fibre is undoubtedly good for a pet’s health – a fact that is backed up by an array of scientific studies. As components of pet food, and functional ingredients, specific fibre sources are primarily known for their ability to keep a pet’s digestive systems healthy and balanced. Clinical studies have shown that supplementing dry and wet cat food with cellulose fibre helps to reduce typical hairball symptoms and to raise faecal hair excretion in cats.
As in humans, pet obesity numbers continue to increase year by year. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), nearly 60% of cats and 56% of dogs in the US are overweight or obese. Weight management foods enriched with concentrated cellulose fibres can help to better control weight in cats and dogs without affecting food palatability.
Oral health is another top concern among pet owners. Approximately 70% of cats and 80% of dogs develop some form of oral health problem by the time they are three years old. Clinical studies have proved that dental foods and snacks enhanced with specific cellulose fibres work more effectively to promote oral health in dogs when compared with fibre-free control products.
Consistency, texture and uniformity of pet food products are key quality attributes that are important to consumers but may be difficult to maintain. Given the variable nature of ingredients and the complexity of the manufacturing process, creating the right consistency can be a challenge for the manufacturer. Well-known binders such as spray-dried plasma (SDP), wheat gluten or egg white/albumin are commonly used in so-called restructured meat products like chunks, and in all meat applications, for their high swelling, water retention and emulsion capabilities.
With a series of long-term pilot-scale tests at the JRS Technical Competence Center in Rosenberg (Germany), it has been demonstrated that a favourable cost benefit can be achieved by partially replacing conventional binders with functional cellulose fibres. Regardless of the type of meat ingredient tested, replacing 2% SDP with 1% cellulose helps to optimise the key parameters in a steam tunnel process and to improve the textural parameters of the chunk before and after retorting.
Fibre as a tool
Research is also currently underway into capturing product quality features in dry ‘grain-free’ products with high meat inclusion, in order to overcome typical extrusion challenges such as stickiness, reduced throughput or poor product integrity. Cellulose fibres can therefore be considered the pet food technologist’s toolbox for providing a wide range of functionalities across the whole spectrum of pet food products: dry to wet, frozen to sterilised, and even dietary supplements such as tablets.
With enormous demand across the pet industry for innovative products, manufacturers are looking for unique, marketable and functional ingredients.
Special cellulose products with distinct fibre structure and length are often key to the successful development of holistic foods and treats, and for the newer categories of fresh and frozen pet food.
As a leader in fibre products, JRS offers a comprehensive range of fibre ingredients that are suitable for all manufacturing processes and formulation options. Fibres that can help to create food for better differentiation and improved pet health.