Protein derived from plants may soon play a large role in pet food, according to an expert in the field.

Dr. Fred van de Velde, expertise group leader in protein functionality for NIZO Food Research BV, analyzed potential future sources of protein for pet food as part of Petfood Forum 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri. Van de Velde spoke on April 5.

As with the food industry, the pet food industry will need to adjust as the world’s population continues to grow, van de Velde said. By 2050, more than 9 billion people will require 60 percent more food than the world currently produces to be fed. This crunch means the demand for animal protein will likely take away possible ingredients for pet food.

Although this seems challenging, the pet food industry is uniquely positioned to take advantage of emerging proteins because new protein sources are not generally introduced in high-end, human consumption applications. This means new protein sources are likely to be used in pet food first.

Established and emerging plant-based protein sources

Plant-based proteins are already widely used in human and animal nutrition. Many of those protein sources began as byproducts of other food production, and have since become valuable parts of the food supply. Those sources are: soybeans, peas, lupin beans, potatoes, wheat and corn. They are available in large quantities in a variety of styles.

When looking for new protein sources, it’s important to consider the sustainability of the product in the long term…

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