Tate & Lyle
Carst and Walker

Say woof to the new generation of pet food

According to market research firm Packaged Facts, last year pet food sales in the US increased almost 6% and topped $26-billion — and are expected to continue growing through 2022. Food choices available for Fido have exploded in the past decade, and about to debut is a new brand developed by a biotech start-up called Wild Earth.

To make its dog food, Wild Earth uses cultured protein made from a fungus called Aspergillus oryzae, better known as koji.

A fermenting agent that has been used to make products such as soy sauce and miso for hundreds of years, koji produces protein when fed sugar water and kept in optimal conditions.

Wild Earth takes the protein, combines it with flavouring and different types of flour — depending on the desired fibre content and texture — and bake it to produce what looks like any other dog kibble.

Wild Earth is challenging the status quo of pet food with cultured protein that is good for your pets and the environment.

However, the company claims that the protein source offers a number of advantages over other animal-based dog foods.

“It is not only rich in protein, fibre, and other essential nutrients like minerals and omega fatty acids, koji is a fermented food that has prebiotic and probiotic properties with great potential for improving gut health,” explains Abril Estrada, head of operations at Wild Earth.

“Growing our own protein gives us full oversight of the process and therefore full control over the quality and safety of our protein source. This is a big deal in an industry that is continually plagued by recalls.

“Also, we anticipate that as we scale and grow production, the cost of our food will drop accordingly, making high quality pet food more accessible to the general public.”

The company hasn’t forgotten about feline friends. In fact, because cats, unlike dogs, must have meat in their diet, the company is working on culturing mouse meat for a line of cat food.

“We are still in the early phases of research and development of our cultured mouse meat, but aim to be ready for testing by 2019,” says Estrada.

“Aside from the technical complexities of matching meat texture and flavour, developing a process that yields a clean meat product at the same cost of conventional meat is still the biggest hurdle.”

At the rate Wild Earth is moving, it is possible that we will be feeding lab-grown meat to our cats and dogs before we see it on our own dinner plates.

As its website states, the company is driven by the goal to make pet food an honest and sustainable business that cares about animals, people, and the environment.

“Our long-term vision is to have an integrated view of pet health, where animal-free diets are seen as a healthy alternative to pet nutrition,” says Estrada.

See more at www.wildearthpets.com

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