The new recruits will support the commercial side of the pet nutrition business in the US and Canada, as well as developing it further in Europe, in countries that offer significant growth potential when it comes to companion animal nutrition, namely Germany, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Switzerland.
“We are also increasing our presence in Asian and South American markets, and this year has seen us participate in pet nutrition conferences globally, from the US to Mexico to Thailand to Spain, and most recently in Turkey,” said Francesca Susca, pet development manager, Lallemand Animal Nutrition.
“It is an industry that would seem to be quite resistant to the crisis and one in which we see growth every year, more in value than volume,” she told us.
The pandemic prompted more people to become pet owners, said Susca, to make them feel less lonely. And pet humanization – anthropomorphism – is a strong trend within the pet industry.
“Pets are often considered as family members, with more and more pet owners looking to provide their pets with human-like products and experiences. There is also much more awareness among consumers about the importance of nutrition for their pets, about ensuring the palatability of food for companion animals.”
That trend has seen many pet product retailers and manufacturers expanding their shelves and drawing inspiration from human lifestyle to provide pet owners with products that make them feel even more connected to their companion.
Bridging the gap in companion animal microbiota science
Consumers and brand owners are increasingly seeking transparent, functional and natural ingredients, with a clear mode of action. Manufacturers, of course, have to be mindful of formulation challenges linked to novel inputs such as their viability through processing, shelf life and labelling claims, said Susca.
Antioxidants and ingredients that support digestion and immunity in pets account for 60% of market demand, and Lallemand has beeen actively researching gut health in companion animals.
Indeed, the company is aiming to bridge the gap in companion animal microbiota science, with a heightened focus, of late, on dog microbiota. Its researchers believe the microbiome is key to advance personalized nutrition and health for pets and horses.
In October, Lallemand held its first seminar dedicated to the pet and equine microbiome in Windsor, UK. Dr Emmanuelle Apper and Dr Frédérique Chaucheyras-Durand, from Lallemand’s Center of Excellence, provided an overview of gut microbiome research in dogs, cats, and horses in the OMICS era.
The microbiota is less documented within companion animals than in humans or farm animals, they noted. However, there is evidence it plays a crucial role in maintaining gut homeostasis and gut health, representing a fascinating modulator of animal well-being and immunity, said those researchers.
Lallemand also unveiled PetWAG, a tool designed to measure and monitor pet welfare based on personality and mood state, at the event. It can provide a quantitative method of measuring behavior and mood state, when discussing pet well-being, nutrition, and gut-brain communication, said the developer.
Nutritionist Myriam Hesta, professor in pet and horse nutrition at Ghent University in Belgium, focused on the relationship between the microbiome, the immune response and nutrition, in her talk at the conference. She spoke about the interplay between these those pillars and the nutritional interventions that can help leverage immunity.
Studies evaluating pro- pre- and post-biotics in pets are scarce, she said, but such products could potentially benefit animals with compromised or weak immune systems such as puppies or kittens, especially around weaning, along with pregnant and lactating animals, as well as ageing and stressed animals.
Susca also drew attention to the sustainability trend in the pet food space, with the search on for alternative protein sources, prompted by competition between food and feed in terms of edible protein, supply chain challenges, price volatility, and other drivers.
In terms of incorporating any novel ingredients into a pet food formulation the focus must be on ensuring value, on the bioavailability and digestibility of the new protein sources, she stressed.
In that respect, she highlighted the launch of the company’s hydrolyzed yeast product last year, which can be used across all animal species, livestock and pet. Yela Prosecure is designed to support animal performance, digestive care and feed palatability while contributing to the feed protein balance.
In the development of that product, the company screened different feed-grade yeast biomasses and optimized their production process. A controlled hydrolysis process was applied with the addition of specifically selected exogenous enzymes to the biomass, to ensure high nutrient digestibility and functionality, explained Susca. Trials in pets showed the potential of the yeast product to also enhance feed palatability, another big constraint for pet food producers, said the Lallemand representative.