The history of humans and domestic pets are inextricably linked. In fact, the term ‘animal connection’ may have played a significant role in human evolution – especially when you consider how some animals transitioned from being seen purely as food to that of a friend, and the significance of this relationship.
This animal connection, or the process by which pets or livestock become companions and members of a human family, started about 2.6million years ago, when we started studying animals, and this close contact eventually led to regular social interaction.
A new term, coined by highly regarded anthropologist John Bradshaw, refers to ‘anthrozoology.’ It describes the interaction between animals and humans and how in this two-way street of interaction, pets and humans provide each other with company, assist with physical and mental health – crossing the pet/human divide.
Building on this close relationship, it is our duty as the human caregivers of domestic pets to ensure that they have access to the right nutrition that will contribute to their optimum physical and mental health.
As pets become a more natural part of a household, they often suffer from health problems normally associated with humans, including obesity, depression, and a decline in joint health.
Modern day pet health
Statistics released by the Petfood Manufacturers’ Association (PFMA) confirms that 3.2 million households in the UK acquired a pet since the start of the pandemic with two thirds (59%) of new owners aged 16 to 34.
It is the belief of Nicole Paley, PFMA deputy CEO that while many people are benefitting from pet ownership, they need to consider the welfare of these new pets by ensuring that they get enough exercise, attention, and the right food.
With a return to post-pandemic routines, with normal office hours and kids at school, pets are left on their own more often, without the requisite exercise and companionship.
While sedentary lifestyle could have an impact on joint health, there are other factors as to why pets might need extra joint support.
These include old age, being overweight, trauma and injury. During the colder months, joint stiffness can appear more pronounced in pets, and it is especially important to support joints in senior pets, as they may feel the cold more. If your pet has had any broken bones, this may also mean they are more sensitive to the cold.
Another factor that could impact on joint health in pets is the cost-of-living crisis across the UK and Europe. This has resulted in a situation where pets are potentially not getting the best food available to them, purely due to economic constraints.
The ability to offer optimum nutrition in petfood at affordable prices means that there is significant research on how functional ingredients such as peptides can assist in bone and joint health, cognitive wellness and maintaining a healthy body weight.
A snapshot of the pet market
On the continent, an estimated 80 million households own at least one pet, and globally, the pet care market was worth US$164.68bn in 2019. It is projected to reach US$241.67bn by 2025, with a CAGR rate of 6.6% between 2020 and 2025. For businesses in the petfood, dietary and supplement markets, the projected growth presents a lucrative opportunity.
Current trends in pet nutrition includes pet ‘humanisation’ and ‘premiumisation’ and these are seen as primary drivers in the development of nutraceutical petfood, while increasing consciousness about pet health has catalysed European pet owners to turn towards nutraceutical food.
The increasing number of single families, rising animal healthcare costs, aging pet population, and poor outcomes of the use of drugs have led to consumers looking for alternatives in the form of natural and organic products.
The addition of active ingredients based on intended functionality could be a highly beneficial category to petfood scientists, brand owners and ingredient suppliers.
A sustainable solution
Since 2000, Norwegian-based biomega® has focused on advancing innovative biotechnology to release the full nutritional and functional value of previously underutilised salmon material during processing. Using various enzymatic hydrolysis processes, biomega can offer a comprehensive range of protein peptides to the petfood industry.
This source of traceable and sustainable functional ingredients means that biomega biorefineries can turn food-grade fresh Atlantic salmon parts into premium feed and nutritional compounds – backed by several world-leading accreditations, including GMP+, alongside working towards ASC certification.
“With a growing pet population, the switch to developing sustainable ingredients is key if we are to reduce the environmental impact on our planet,” says Silke Middendorf, chief commercial officer at biomega.
The ability to reduce the impact of human food waste by using these underutilised side streams offers a full circle, zero waste solution and the company is continually looking at additional research in the development of sustainable ingredient streams.
The benefit of peptides
Salmigo® is the company’s brand name for its salmon proteins and peptides used in premium petfood applications. These salmon peptides are processed from fresh Norwegian salmon material by natural enzymatic hydrolysis.
The ingredient contains about 90 percent proteins in the form of peptides and free amino acids and is a highly digestible nutritional source of protein that has a high biological value. It also contains natural vitamins and taurine coupled to a well-balanced amino acid composition.
These products also offer an enticing smell and are available in both spray dried and liquid formats for trouble-free application. For more information on biomega and its salmon peptides; visit biomegagroup.com.
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Article contributed by Dr. Silke Middendorf, Chief Commercial Officer, biomega, Bergen, Norway.