The future of pet food animal proteins

In the long term, supply of animal protein sources could become a problem for the pet food industry. What are the alternatives?

Pollotarians, flexitarians and vegans

Paul McCartney lends his voice to the ‘Meat Free Monday’ campaign, whereas ‘Pope Francis offered $1 million to go vegan for Lent’. The charity ‘Veganuary’ invites people to try veganism for January. 

Pollotarians, pescatarians, flexitarians, vegetarians or vegans: Ethical, environmental or animal welfare reasons are leading people to try and abstain from consuming some or all meat. However, if people eat less meat, this can in turn mean less surplus from abattoirs for pet food production. 

Meat consumption grows

Annual statistics about the average Europeans’ meat consumption per capita show no reduction in people’s appetite for meat: In 2010, it was 63.3 kg of meat per annum, the forecast for 2020 stands at 65.7 kg. 

Looking beyond Europe, the growing middle-class populations in countries like China, India, Russia and African countries, means meat consumption will continue to grow with increased disposable incomes. 

Should the pet food industry therefore just relax and not worry about supply of animal protein sources and not look for alternatives? Short to medium term it is not an urgent worry, however in the long-term perhaps more. 

The global human population will grow to 10 billion in 2050, and land currently being used for agricultural feed will be used for human food. Long-term, there will be less meat and thus less by-products. 

Protein alternatives

Insect protein is a current hype. But there are limitations, not only due to the ‘yuck’ factor, but also because of the high energy consumption needed for heating insect cultures. 

‘Cultured meat’ hit the news in 2013, when the first €280,000 ($325,000) lab-grown beef burger was created. By 2021 large-scale production of cultured meat will take off and the price is expected to be one Euro per burger. The protein content is identical compared to ‘real’ beef, so potentially a great option for pet food producers. 

Algae protein has great potential as it grows ten times faster than terrestrial plants and absorbs CO2 as an additional sustainability effect.

In Europe the first myco-protein (protein derived from fungi) was developed and is commercialised for human food, and Asia has long experience with soy-based tofu or seitan from wheat gluten.

As the squeeze on resources and food availability continues, the pet food industry is committed to looking for solutions to minimise the environmental impact and create sustainable resources in the manufacturing of pet food.


Thomas Meyer

How millennials and pets in cities change the pet industry landscape. Alternative protein development.