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WSAVA, Part 2: Animal feed recommendations are now guidelines



wsava, part 2: animal feed recommendations are now guidelines

On April 26, 2021, the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) issued a press release (albeit very quietly) informing veterinarians that their Global Nutrition Committee (GNC) was its Choosing a Pet Food “. It appears that the WSAVA has updated its document in accordance with my article “WSAVA Recommendations on Pet Food: Useful or Useless?”. although some problems still persist.

These much-needed updates are interesting when you consider that the WSAVA stated in its press release: “The work of the GNC is generously supported by the Purina Institute, Hill’s Pet Nutrition and Royal Canin.

“WSAVA represents more than 200,000 veterinarians worldwide through its 115 member associations and is working to improve the standards of clinical care for pets,” said the press release.

Recommendations versus guidelines

Those of us familiar with the 2013 WSAVA tool will remember that the title had the word “Recommendations”. In the last update this word was replaced by “guidelines”.

To some this change may seem insignificant; however, it is essential as guidelines contain instructions, non-specific rules and advice to direct an action or behavior (in this case, the selection of pet food). Recommendations, on the other hand, are generally viewed as approvals, especially from a relevant person or entity like the WSAVA (i.e. feed only those food stamps). This can be seen in the fact that many veterinarians and consumers interpreted the previous version of the Pet Food Selection Recommendations to mean that “only companies X, Y and Z are recommended by the WSAVA”.

Now the guidelines are written in a format that asks, “Is this company doing these things?” That is far from a food recommendation, in fact. WSAVA even goes a step further by stating at the bottom of the page: “If the manufacturer cannot or does not want to provide this information, veterinarians and owners should be careful when feeding this brand.”

Does the pet food company employ a nutritionist?

In honor of the WSAVA, they have tried to update the “What to Look For in a Brand” section with guidelines for veterinarians to help them make the right decisions and, more importantly, how to ask the right questions. Unfortunately there is still evidence of generous support from WSAVA sponsors.

For example, the first question – “Do you employ a nutritionist?” – should be deleted entirely. For the purposes of this discussion, I will focus on specifying the correct qualifications. What many people (including WSAVA) don’t know is that there are only 96 American College of Veterinary Nutrition certified veterinarians. Of these 96, 83% work in science, in veterinary practices or as consultants. That means 16 work for pet food companies.

If you take a closer look at these 16 specialist veterinarians who work for pet food companies, only two work in “discovery” (i.e. research and development) and one is global vice president of research and development. The rest works in marketing, communication or regulation (one person). Crazy, right? I wonder if WSAVA knew that when you asked the question?

The reality is that the mere question of whether the company employs a nutritionist can lead people down the wrong path in decision-making, as that nutritionist may never actually be involved in the formulation or evaluation of the product. Here, truth by omission can be used to mislead people into wrongly following the guidelines. If someone is board certified or has a Ph.D. in animal nutrition, the company can still say, “We have a full-time certified animal nutritionist on the staff.” The same goes for a board-certified nutritionist for scientific matters, veterinary communications, consumer relations, academic and professional matters and regulation.

There is nothing wrong with where these people work in the company; however, this is not the intention of the question (s) and is also not transparent. It means that none of these board certified individuals touches the formulations in the marketplace or their employment validates any or all of their formulations.

What WSAVA did right

In short, the WSAVA section “Who formulates the diet?” Addresses what was completely missing in the 2013 recommendations and what they couldn’t improve in this update (do you employ a nutritionist?). In this section, WSAVA addresses the question that really matters: who formulated your meal and what are its references? They recognize the need to not only have references, but the importance of having the right experience. Anyone can create a pet food formulation; however, not everyone can scale the interactions of ingredients, processing losses, the effects of shelf life, and most importantly, bioavailability.

In the “What to look for on the label?” Section, WSAVA does a good job of pointing out important aspects of the pet food label and is largely correct. Unfortunately, I think WSAVA can raise the standard for the question “How many calories are in a cup?” Feature. For professionals among us, we know that the modified Atwater calculation in dogs and cats to determine metabolizable energy (ME, in kcal / kg) has never really been validated. In fact, this method has been shown to fail to predict actual kcal / kg, leading to overfeeding of dogs and cats (contributing to the obesity epidemic). So this reinforces what I said in my previous article about the need to provide actual digestibility values ​​for each individual food item. In this way, the calorie content of food is determined via the tested ME compared to the calculated ME.

Last but not least, I am pleased to see that the WSAVA is starting to speak of a “typical nutrient analysis” for a food. A typical nutrient analysis is an actual analysis of the finished end product versus a predicted analysis (i.e. via formulation software) that most pet food companies offer. The fact is that the final formulations of most of the pet foods on the market have never been tested to prove their nutritional adequacy.

Again, I believe this is an opportunity for WSAVA to raise the bar and ask if a typical nutrient analysis is available for ALL foods a pet food company produces and if the analysis is accessible. I don’t think a vet has the time to question every food that comes through the door; they just want easy access (published online) to the information the company SHOULD have in order to properly market the food (along with digestibility data).

Still a loophole in quality control

In the section “How does the quality control for ingredients and finished products work?” WSAVA once again had the opportunity to set the right yardstick. For those of us who are experienced in the industry, we know that what nutrients a food is formulated for and what ends up at the end of the extruder are two different things. When asked, “Does the diet meet the profile based on analysis with a nutrient database?” Says nothing about the actual nutrients in the diet – just what is predicted. What the vet and everyone wants to know is the typical nutrient analysis.

I have a hard time understanding why WSAVA phrased the question this way for the quality control section but correctly phrased it in the contact information section (that the company should be able to provide a typical analysis).

Eventually, WSAVA missed the opportunity to set the standard for quality control. For those who read my last article, we talked about how companies can say they follow all procedures when in reality they don’t. The classic example will always be the “recommended” brand that had a global vitamin D recall that made and killed animals for not following its own standard operating procedures.

For this reason, WSAVA should instead ask, “Do you have any third-party food safety certification to verify that the processes are in place and being followed?” Many companies are already third-party certified, in the process of being, or have recently received certification. Examples are Red Barn, Instinct, and Wellpet.

In a nutshell: which brands will rise?

I am pleased that the WSAVA has finally taken a step in the right direction by updating its guidelines for the selection of pet food. If you think about it, it makes a lot of sense to update the tool from the previous version, “Recommendations for Choosing a Pet Food” if one of your main sponsors has violated any of the key food safety criteria (e.g. Hill’s FDA warning letter).

The irony of this update is that the brands that many veterinarians are happy to recommend are NOT meeting these new guidelines, or in other words not complying with WSAVA guidelines because they don’t have typical veterinary nutritional analysis available. So the question is: which brands will meet these standards and which will continue to do the bare minimum?

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Pet Food Safety Priority: 3 Questions to Ask Your Pet Food Manufacturer



pet food safety priority: 3 questions to ask your pet

Sponsored content from Alphia

Choosing a pet food manufacturing partner is a complicated process. Assessing a company’s reputation in the marketplace is a good place to start, but why stop? It’s important to pull the curtain back to see what’s going on behind the scenes. This will give you a better idea of ​​how a company rates the quality and safety of their product.

Most reputable pet food manufacturers have a food and safety program in place. How thorough is it, however? How is it implemented? If you don’t answer these key questions, you run the risk of creating a product that doesn’t meet your standards, your customers’ standards, or the requirements of the FDA.

To avoid these risks, here are 3 critical questions you should ask any potential pet food manufacturer:

  1. How is your food safety program structured?

Most food safety programs aim to eliminate, prevent, or reduce food safety hazards to acceptable levels. To achieve this goal, the food safety management system (e.g. HACCP) must be based on effective prerequisites for food safety programs, which should include:

  • Supply chain management program – The integrity of the end product is guaranteed by setting specifications for all ingredients. The manufacturer should only buy from approved suppliers and create a schedule for the necessary supplier verification activities, such as on-site audits.
  • Sanitary transport of food – The food safety of the final products should be ensured by ensuring that the consignor or any other transport group handling the product follows prescribed hygiene practices.
  • cGMPs (Current Manufacturing Practices for Goods) – Any reputable animal feed partner should already be using cGMPs, which includes the use of hairnets to prevent product contamination, adequate water supplies and ongoing plant hygiene.
  • SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) – The introduction of SOPs ensures the consistent execution of critical tasks.
  • SSOP (Sanitation Standard Operating Procedure) – Step-by-step procedures for disinfecting and cleaning equipment to minimize contamination.
  • Regular audits – External or internal audits should be carried out in the production facility; reports from a certified company should be available on request.
  • Committed culture – Manufacturers should commit to establishing guidelines and training their staff on food safety to ensure that this is one of their guiding principles.
  1. What measures are you taking to prevent cross-contamination?

Cross-contamination is an often overlooked segment of food safety, making it an important question to be asked of any potential partner. Every manufacturing process should already include a “killing step” with the aim of killing pathogens that may be present in the ingredients. Without appropriate precautions, however, harmful microorganisms can be transferred from contaminated surfaces to food surfaces or from raw materials to the end product. One effective preventive measure that you might want to look for is hygienic zoning. This is the case when a facility is divided into separate zones in order to separate areas for handling raw materials from areas after it has been killed, such as e.g. Both movement and airflow should be controlled to prevent cross-contamination between zones.

  1. Has any of your products been recalled? If so, what steps did you take to make sure it never happened again?

It is important to confirm that your prospective manufacturer has a history of meeting both customer and regulatory requirements. If the manufacturer has experienced a recall, before you cross it off your list, ask them what happened and what they did to alleviate the problem and make sure it doesn’t recur.

A recall can be evidence that a food safety program has failed; However, there are many reasons for a recall. For example, it can be as simple as an employee mistake leading to a recall. Or an ingredient from a supplier with a confirmation letter provided that later turned out to be contaminated. Whatever the reason for the recall, smart questions can help shed light on the real causes of the recall and help you determine if the manufacturer’s food safety programs are up to your standards.


Making pet food is a complicated process. In order to avoid contamination and maintain product integrity, suitable measures must be taken at every step from raw material procurement through production to transport. Failure to comply with food safety standards can lead to disruptions to your production schedule or, in the worst case, a recall by the FDA.

Before deciding to partner with a pet food manufacturer, make sure it is adequately reviewed by asking smart, informed questions and doing your own audit. Your reputation and your customers, two and four-legged friends, depend on it.

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10 top pet food companies headquartered in Europe



10 top pet food companies headquartered in europe

Most of the top 10 pet food companies headquartered in Europe, as measured by sales in 2020, were different from the previous year’s rankings, with only four of the top 10 remaining in the same rankings. The June edition of the Petfood Industry with its annual report on the Top Pet Food Companies introduces the leading pet food companies from around the world. While companies headquartered in the USA dominate the top of the overall world rankings, companies based in Europe also stand out.

10 top pet food companies based in Europe and their home country, ranked by 2020 annual sales (in millions)

  1. Agrolimen SA, Spain, US $ 900.00
  2. Deuerer, Germany, US $ 721.00
  3. Heristo AG, Germany, $ 700.00
  4. United Petfood, Belgium, $ 650.00
  5. C&D Foods, Ireland, $ 450.00
  6. Monge & CSpA, Italy, $ 385.00
  7. Pet Nutrition Partner, Hungary, US $ 354.17
  8. Vafo Group, Czech Republic, $ 320.00
  9. Versele-Laga NV, Belgium, $ 257.10
  10. Farmina Pet Foods Holding BV, The Netherlands, $ 254.00

Compared to last year, six of the top 10 pet food companies headquartered in Europe have shifted in their ranking status, the top three and the bottom three. The four companies in the middle of the field remained constant in their rankings. Ranking changes include:

  • Agrolimen SA has moved up two places
  • Deuerer, Heristo AG and Versele-Laga NV have all dropped one place
  • Vafo Group has risen significantly in the ranking
  • Farmina Pet Foods Holding BV is new to the ranking this year

While one of the top 10 pet food companies headquartered in Europe had unchanged year-on-year sales, six saw year-over-year sales increases and three saw sales decrease.

Three of the top 10 companies headquartered in Europe have pet food subsidiaries

  • Agrolimen SA

    1. Affinity Petcare SA, Spain, $ 667.00
    2. Instinct, United States, $ 200.00
    3. Natures Menu, UK, $ 33.00 US
  • Devereux
    1. Vitakraft Pet Care GmbH & Co., Germany, $ 275.00
    2. Pets Choice, United Kingdom, $ 64.78
  • United Petfood
    1. Bynsa Pets, Spain, $ 136.23
    2. Effeffe pet food, Italy, $ 49.50

Geographically, the companies have their headquarters all over Europe, two of them in Germany, two in Belgium and one each in Spain, Ireland, Italy, Hungary, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands.

Acquire key data on leading US pet food manufacturers

The information is sold as a downloadable spreadsheet that allows customers to sort, filter, and analyze the data based on their specific needs. The data points include, if available, postal address, type of products offered, brands, number of employees, number of facilities and annual sales 2017-2020. The companies are ranked by sales in 2020.

Take the survey on the top pet food companies

The Petfood Industry Top Pet Food Companies project surveys pet food companies every year, always with the aim of expanding the reach and reach of the companies in the rankings. To be included in the annual leaderboard, please contact [email protected] The data is collected each year through a variety of methods including direct company contacts (a survey is emailed to the participating companies), in-depth research and estimates.

Contact Tara Loszach by email at [email protected]

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U.S. pet food spending increased in 2020, tracking sales growth



u.s. pet food spending increased in 2020, tracking sales growth

U.S. consumer pet food spending increased more than 31% year-on-year (YOY) through mid-2020, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported by John Gibbons, aka the Pet Business Professor and have been analyzed.

This huge increase in reported spending confirms similar spending growth seen by Packaged Facts, as well as healthy pet food sales growth in 2020 reported by the American Pet Products Association, Euromonitor, and others. (Note that Packaged Facts data showed US pet food and treats spending up 15% over the year. The US government is notoriously slow to move, even in normal times; hence the latest BLS data, recently published, only goes through mid-2020. The agency’s data for the full year 2020 is expected in September 2021, according to Gibbons.)

Effects of COVID-19 on pet food spending

By mid-2020, U.S. pet food spending reached nearly $ 40 billion – $ 37.96 billion to be precise, according to BLS data. That’s an increase of $ 9.06 billion since mid-2019, Gibbons reported.

He found that pet food spending had actually started to grow in the second half of 2019 – in fact, “recovered” after unexpectedly declining in 2018, at least according to historical patterns. That decrease was likely due to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA.) Investigation and announcements about a possible link between grain-free pet foods and canine enlarged cardiomyopathy (DCM). This makes sense because sales data from Nielsen and others showed a significant drop in grain-free sales in 2018 and 2019, and that category accounted for a significant share of the overall U.S. pet food market.

“In the second half of 2019, we began to see a recovery from the overreaction to the FDA warning and spending increased by $ 2.3 billion,” Gibbons wrote. “Then came 2020. The recovery continued, but a new external influence came in that had a massive impact on US consumers – the COVID-19 pandemic. In March, non-essential stores were closed. It also sparked a wave of panic buying across some really important product categories. There is only one really essential category in the pet industry – pet food. “

Ultimate Pet Food Spend?

We all know the rest of this story, but Gibbons’ analysis provides additional insight into who actually spent more on pet food: higher-income US households and baby boomers. In particular, households with incomes greater than $ 70,000 increased their spending by 25% in the first half of 2020, and households with incomes greater than $ 100,000 increased their spending by more than 20%. Again, this is in line with animal feed sales data from Euromonitor and other sources.

Looking at pet food spending by age group, US consumers 55 and over increased nearly 23%, according to BLS data, while spending in two other broad age groups, under 35 and 35-54 year olds, actually decreased slightly YOY.

Based on this data, Gibbons created a profile of the “ultimate household that provides pet food”: 55 to 64 years old (also known as boomers), married couple with oldest child over 18 years of age, two earners but self-employed, income of US $ 100,000 Dollars to $ 150,000 and lives in an area of ​​more than 2,500 people.

However, he also pointed out that their status as “super-animal parents” may have influenced the BLS spending data, which is traditionally collected through interviews, surveys and even printed diaries – a process that, like everything else, is related to the pandemic. Due to lockdowns, all personal interviews or the collection of diaries by BLS employees had to be relocated online or by telephone, which dampened the response rate.

To compensate for this, BLS included households in its survey process, Gibbons said, where boomer influence may have played a role. “They are more than scrupulous about their pets, so it is expected that they will be the most likely to respond to a survey conducted in the difficult circumstances created by the pandemic,” he wrote. “This could result in their large pet food spending spending a disproportionate proportion of the sample and driving up the mean significantly.” He also noted that the large differences in pet food alone and in other categories were not widespread; the fluctuations in total spending were small.

Nevertheless, according to Gibbons, the BLS survey is “demographically representative without general biases. Pet food spending may be a bit high, but it’s very likely that there was a big spike in the first half of 2020. ”And the pet food and treat sales figures show that.




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