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  • Amir Muhaisen

Pet Dry Food : Opportunity

in this article, Amir focuses on unconventional proteins for pet dry food formulation and illustrates economic feasibility as an opportunity upon high competitive advantage and controversial chemical additives

pet-dry-food : ingredients

Normally, pet dry food is composed of edible byproducts surplus to human food processing industry in which protein and carbohydate meals are mixed, also chemical binders are added to hold components together. Note that protein meal refers to animal derivatives which are cooked, fat-removed, dried, and pulverized. In contrast, carbohydrate meal refers to cereals used in dry form, milled before mixing.

pet-dry-food : machine

Subsequently, dry mix is combined with water to create recipe dough that enters an extrusion chamber to be processed under pressure -in which process variables are chamber temperature, screw design, nozzle size, and moisture content- before slicing into pre-specified size using rotary cutter to produce kribbles which are dried in oven to reduce moisture content then coated with flavours, preservatives, and colorants. Finally, coated kribbles are packaged, sealed to prevent contamination, and stored in boxes ready for distribution to customers.

Unconventional Approach

Although protein meals are commonly derived from beef, chicken, pork, salmon, tuna, or lamb byproducts. Producers are searching for alternatives to maintain competitive advantage rather than transfer price pressure to customers; as raw materials prices are taking an upward trend worldwide upon supply chain bottlenecks besides energy price volatility. For that reason, unconventional protein meals derived from serum albumin or insects are being considered in parallel to sustainable carbohydrate meals derived from spent grains by utilizing byproducts of brewing industry, instead of common carbohydrate meals derived from rice, millet, wheat, corn, or barley.

insect-protein : nutrition

Noticeably, insects contain proteins with amino acid content as beef, chicken, or fish. In a nutshell, insect-based proteins are cheaper due to insect-farm affordable expenses. for example, crickets are optimum for protein meal production as crickets are farmed vertically in boxes in racks. only after 4 weeks, living crickets are harvested , culled by freezing, washed, and processed into powder. Thus cricket powder is rich in proteins besides calcium and iron, and even well-qualified for human consumption.

cricket-farm : insect-protein

Here you will find information to further illustrate cricket farm design, operation, and expenses.

Crickets : Amino Acids

insect protein : amino-acid

Proteins are poly-petides in which amino acids are primary components. Therefore, cricket powder protein is composed of specific amino acids which are essential for feline and canine diets, thus cricket powder is an optimum source for histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.


In practice, an ideal pet dry food is digestible cohesive with controllable texture and suitable shapes ; kribbles or elongate chunks which are penetration-resistant yet slightly pliable with preferably low density, optimum nutrition content of carbohydrates, proteins, and fatty acids. Keep in mind that excessive calories intake leads to pet obesity, while unrestrained protein intake triggers renal failure.

Typically, pet dry food is formulated from following ingredients :

A. carbohydrate meal composed of pre-activated starch derived from expanded or puffed grains -which are created using high temperature, pressure, or extrusion- as for lower density compared to non-activated grains, and high reactive surface that chemically reacts with proteinmeal and additives

B. protein meal composed of poultry byproduct meal made from pulverized rendered remains of poultry carcasses that contain bones, offal , or undeveloped eggs. Additionally, pork gelatin enhances elasticity and increases chewing duration as certain products are designed to extend chewing duration especially for canines besides that extend chewing duration helps improve dental hygiene for both felines and canines. On the other hand, too much pork gelatin increases fecal volume and enhances diarrhea for pets

C. chemical binders such as sorbitol, glycerol, and monoglycerides that link starch with proteins to enhance low moisture extrusion, and reduce post-extrusion drying besides that product hardness and elasticity are controlled through binder combinations

D. additives are synthetic flavors, food colorants, and preservatives, also vegetable oil is sprayed to enrich product with fatty acids while anti-stalling agents such as glycerol monostearate are optionally added for customized products.

preservatives : pet-dry-food

It is important to mention that most used synthetic flavor is artificial powdered meat flavor while most used preservatives are butylated hydroxyanisole, butylated hydroxytoluene and controversial ethoxyquin upon speculations to be possibly carcinogen, and to a smaller extent controversial propyl gallate upon research paper denoted its estrogen antagonist effect.

Upon further "probing", Chemiprobe have obtained formula for pet dry food

>> dry basis mass %

  • pre-activated rice starch (33%)

  • wheat starch (3%)

  • pork gelatin (15%) , poultry meal (13%)

  • glycerol (15%) , sorbitol (5%)

  • additives (6%) , water (10%)

According to Chemiprobe, up to 30% (poultry meal , pork gelatin) of this formula can be replaced with cricket flour.

Market Players

In the middle-east, pet dry food market is continuously growing upon embracing modern life style in cities, especially among teens in which having canine or feline pet is considered trendy. Although regional market players are mostly importers of finished products in which packaging is the main activity, yet actual formulators are concentrated in Turkey.

Business Analysis

According to Chemiprobe, formulating pet dry food in the middle-east in reference to formula -mentioned above- requires approx. 3.24 USD per KG (kribbles) in which 2.25 USD are imported raw materials and 1.25 USD are operational expenses (extrusion, drying, packaging). Then formulator profit margin is (7%) which is highly sensitive to upsteam market trends

Case (B) : Consider imported cricket meal instead of typical protein meal. Then formulator profit margin is (9%) which is higher still sensitive to upsteam market trends as for imported ingredients from China and Thailand.

Case (C) : Consider locally-produced cricket meal instead of typical protein meal. Then formulator profit margin is (23%) which is invulnerable as for upsteam market trends.


1. pet food production processes.

Pibarot, Waterlain, Reynes. (2007). WO2007073903A1. International Patent

2. edible insects: future prospect for food and feed security. (2013). food and agriculture organization. united nations


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