How to Effectively Communicate Science with Pet Owners and Society: Understanding Pet Owner, Purchasing Decisions, and Sensory Characteristics of Pet Foods

Wednesday, July 23, 2014: 4:10 PM
3501D (Kansas City Convention Center)
K Koppel , Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS
Abstract Text:

Science communication to targeted communities is a topic that has received a great deal of attention and published research. For the sake of human health there has been an emphasis on food-related communication and comprehension in publications such as human nutrition guidelines, labeling, and risk management of different types of foods. Only recently have pet food related issues been covered extensively in the media. There is a growing awareness of pet owners regarding pet food ingredients and health concerns surrounding pet obesity issues. While traditional animal science has focused on efficiency and yield, companion animal science redirects the target to perceptions about quality, animal wellness, and the pet-owner relationship. This changes the opportunities in research and communication through to the classroom. Recent trends in companion animal and pet food research include understanding drivers behind purchase decisions, relating pet owner behavior characteristics to issues with pets’ weight management, and understanding pet food characteristics in association with food composition and animal preference.

At Kansas State University our lab is focusing research activity on sensory properties and volatile compounds of pet food, ingredient effects on sensory and palatability aspects, and pet owner behavior studies. This research is being transferred to the classroom, shared with the scientific community, and the pet food industry. This presentation describes how pet food science is being studied, taught, and communicated at Kansas State University in the Sensory Analysis Center and Department of Grain Science in order to educate and train the next generation of companion animal specialists. 

Keywords: Companion Animals, pet food, ingredients