As Earth’s human and pet populations grow, so too does the demand for protein. To meet that demand, plant-based proteins may become increasingly important sustainable pet food protein sources, according to Fred van de Velde, PhD, expertise group leader in protein functionality for NIZO Food Research BV, speaking at Petfood Forum 2017.

Established and emerging plant-based protein sources

Many plant-based proteins have been widely used in human and animal nutrition for years, said van de Velde, such as soybeans, peas, lupin beans, potatoes, wheat and corn. Others are just now starting to become popular and widely available.

Van de Velde defined these emerging plant-based proteins as ingredients that are less used on the market and slowly being adopted, or they are still largely in the research stage. He said emerging crops include fava beans, chickpeas, lentils, marrowfat peas, beans and rapeseed.

Plant-based protein sustainability

When considering upcoming plant-based protein in pet food, it’s important to consider the sustainability of the product in the long term, said Van de Velde. Beyond environmental sustainability, a pet food manufacturer must be able to assure a continued availability of the product as it rises in importance in the food supply.

Van de Velde mentioned whey protein, a cheese production byproduct, as an example of how popularity can reduce availability. Once largely discarded, whey protein is now a key ingredient in infant formula and sport supplements. Competition from human demands reduces the supply available for pet food and animal feed. Similar trends…

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