From the February 2023 Edition of International Petfood Magazine.
Many things are on the move in the pet food industry. Our involvement in pet food, combined with today’s developments, makes us a key partner in contributing to lasting relationships. The pet food industry has a reputation of being resilient despite major setbacks like recessions, pandemics, and inflation.
Especially during Covid-19, people massively decided to adopt a pet for company. However, this does not necessarily imply that customers, particularly pet owners, can or will always support the sector at the same level. The needs are continuously changing as well as processing technology innovations. Thus, with our events, we are providing the opportunity to our exhibitors and visitors to keep up with the emerging nutrition trends and market insights in order to not lag behind.
Pet food industry
Pet food consists of two types: dry food and wet food. The fundamental difference between wet and dry food is primarily the water content. Whilst dry food has a moisture content of just 3-12 percent, for wet food it is above 60 percent. The procession of dry food is also responsible for more odour.
On one hand, we have traditional ingredients that are corn, meat, poultry, seafood, various soy and wheat based ingredients. On the other hand, there are innovative ingredients available on the market that are vegan meat, single cell protein, rice protein, pea protein, sunflower protein, Lemna protein and sustainable soy as a consequence of changes in demand. Research shows that soy products, for instance, are a great source of bodybuilding protein, coat-nourishing vegetable oil and healthful fibre for cats. In addition, scientists are exploring the options and effects of plant-based protein peptides. As economic constraints also play a role in the choice of food, the ability to offer nutrition at affordable prices depends on how effective peptides will turn out and how cost effectively these alternatives are processed.
To get the right balance in pet food processing, the process includes rendering, grinding, blending and shaping, packaging, labelling and sterilizing. Modern technology these days is making the overall production automated, sustainable and customized without too many manual efforts, the release of harmful substances, odours or waste.
Pet food industry shifting towards sustainable solutions
With the immense growth of the pet food industry and its impact on the environment, there is an increasing need for alternative ingredients and processes. Customers expect sustainable alternatives to be included within their broad spectrum of choice, meaning that more than 85 percent have become “greener’ in their purchasing (Global Sustainability Study, 2021). The foregoing is forcing the food and agro-industry into sustainability (i.e. enhancing sorting and harvest solutions; overall food supply chain, but also packaging and recycling to prevent food loss).
Other stumbling blocks are the many unhealthy odours during extrusion and drying of pet food and the high amount of meat in pet food since it requires plenty of land for breeding and cropping purposes. Especially in Brazil, which is a precursor in the field of animal feed and raw materials), there is shortage of meat due to drought, deforestation and therefore supply not meeting the high demand. On the contrary, Brazil ranks as the number 1 country for soybean production meaning there is still a lot of potential. According to the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation, the soy cultivation occupied an area of more than 35 million hectares in 2021 (more than three times the size of continental Europe). Local farmers are becoming more conscious on how to follow sustainable soy farming practices such as crop rotation, reduced till or no-till, water and nutrient management, precision farming technology and cover crops.
Victam LatAm 2023 – Pet food industry
VICTAM LatAm in co-location with Grapas and GEAPS 2023 will host the first Victam LatAm event in Expo Center Norte, São Paulo, Brazil from October 3 – 5, 2023. Why not miss this? The exhibition serves as a ‘one-stop’ show for the decision-makers within the pet food industry. Each visitor will be able to find what they are looking for, all under one roof over three days. The event also focuses on a series of high-quality industry conferences and business matchmaking with colleagues and clients.
The pet food extrusion conference covers the principles of extrusion, the design of extrusion processes, and the formulation of extruded pet food with respect to extrusion. Topics cover the basics of extruders and their configuration, the transformations happening chemically and physically and optimal raw material preparation for premium feed & pet food.
Wageningen University, together with the Victam Foundation, seizes the opportunity of this event to organize a local edition of the international feed technology conference (IFTC). Speakers from various universities in institutions in South America have already confirmed their presence. Through this conference, we at Victam are once again making the link between knowledge and practice. Our partner RTRS organizes a two-day conference on sustainable soy and GEAPS organizes various seminars and workshops for the grain industry. We have also joined an online milling school, where we want to bring the participating students from Latin America to the fair for the last session and graduation ceremony. Interesting for the students and of course the exhibitors. Apart from that, we have a full program of shorter sessions on a variety of industry topics.
Interview with exhibitors – AEROX
For many years, Aerox has participated at events and conferences for animal feed, pet food and aqua feed sectors which have been organised by Victam, both in Europe and Asia. The Brazilian pet market is one of the most vibrant and resilient globally. Already the 6th largest in the world in terms of revenue. For this reason, participating at Victam LatAm will provide Aerox the opportunity to expand their presence within this territory as we are constantly working to consolidate our markets in order to expand in new areas.
Aerox, founded in 1974, focuses solely on their in-house developed Aerox®-Injector, based on non-thermal plasma technology to control odours. The injector works on the basis of cold plasma, a sustainable and effective technology to reduce odour emission to a minimum and thus combat odour nuisance. Aerox has over 30 years of experience in odour abatement in the pet food industry. The injector can treat combined exhaust gases up to 90,000 m3/h from, for example, the extruder, dryer and cooler. In many cases it can achieve an odour reduction of up to 95 percent!
For this edition, we are delighted to give the floor to Michiel Wildschut, managing director at Aerox, to tell us more about the company and success factors.
Why Latin America?
The overall legislation in Latin America is relatively lagging behind compared to other countries. Some countries are moving a little faster and there we are dealing with a number of large professional companies already. With or without legislation, we hear markets demanding abolishing child labour and decreasing environmental pollution. We have to consider this and we must respond by doing what we do efficiently and in a more sustainable, responsible way. Both locally and internationally.
What are your expectations of Victam LatAm? What outcome do you expect?
What we see, not only here but all over the world, certainly also in South America, customers naturally attach great importance to customer service and contact in terms of: Who are the people behind the company? What is their track record? What can they contribute to the long run? What are the references? This is a great opportunity for us to show reliability and gain trust. On that note, this is for us the right time to talk to our (potential) customers and more importantly, give them the ability to talk to us. Being able to go better through the process than we would normally do on a daily basis via teams or through the phone. Long story short: higher accessibility and approachability, personal contact moments.
What is Aerox’ vision on sustainability?
ESG is an actual theme that we are continuously confronted with in daily- and business life. The essence of how we look at environmental impact, is by providing solid long-term solutions, that are energy efficient at the same time. At Aerox, we switched from odour reduction to air purification. We are also focusing more on cradle-to-cradle packaging and materials. Additionally, our injectors last for decades.
What is the biggest challenge within the industry that you are currently facing?
Availability of components and being able to deliver on time. Well, we have always been able to manage this well. Despite shortages, we have actually been able to serve all customers as agreed. I think we’re on the right side of the line all around and the key is to move along with the demand cycle at all times.
What makes Aerox different than other key players in the field i.e. what is your competitive advantage?
I am glad that there are a number of competitors active in the air purification market that use non-thermal plasma technology. Meaning that if you are alone, it will require a lot of research and explanation work. In that sense, we distinguish ourselves by offering tailored and customized applications, in large volumes.