Nutritional Sustainability of Pet Foods

Tuesday, July 22, 2014: 2:10 PM
3501B (Kansas City Convention Center)
Rebbeca A Carter , The Nutro Company, Franklin, TN
Preston R. Buff , The Nutro Company, Franklin, TN
Kelly S Swanson , Department of Animal Sciences, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL
Tracy P Yount , The Nutro Company, Franklin, TN
Jarrod H Kersey , The Nutro Company, Franklin, TN
Abstract Text: The ability to provide adequate, safe nutrition is a critical component of a food system’s sustainability. Nutritional sustainability is the ability of a food system to provide sufficient energy and the amounts of essential nutrients required to maintain good health of the population without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their nutritional needs. The intention of nutritional sustainability is to advance health and nutrition in parallel to advances in food system sustainability. Nutritional sustainability can be influenced by several factors, including ingredient selection, nutrient composition, digestibility, and consumption rates of diets. The pet food system is unique in regards to sustainability because it is based largely on secondary products and tightly interlinked with livestock production and the human food system. Secondary products of the human food system vary widely in their quality and food safety. The concept of nutritional sustainability calls for the evaluation of these ingredients from a nutritional perspective, and to use ingredients with the appropriate quality and food safety to support pet health. The use of secondary products also introduces challenges to the assessment of the environmental impact of a diet. Consequently, the principles used for human food system sustainability in regard to ingredient selection or dietary nutrient composition may not directly apply to the pet food system. An additional uniqueness of the pet food system is the influence of anthropomorphism on pet owner preferences for specific pet food products. Promoting more sustainable practices from an environmental perspective may not have the greatest overall impact on sustainability because of varying penetration into the marketplace. Therefore, it is critical to balance consumer expectations and pet health considerations in advancing sustainability initiatives. The complexities of pet owner preferences introduce challenges with ingredient selection and dietary nutrient composition, given the increasing preference for ingredients that compete with the human food chain and diets that contain high concentrations of protein and animal-based products. Additionally, as the prevalence of human obesity increases, so does the prevalence of pet obesity, along with the impacts on pet health and food wastage associated with food overconsumption. Companion animals play an important role in our lives, providing a positive impact on the emotional and physical health of people with whom they have contact. Advancing the sustainability of the pet food system through nutritional sustainability is a key enabler to maintaining responsible pet ownership in the future.

Keywords: companion animal, nutrition, pet food, sustainability