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A plan for co-development of innovative products in the pet food industry

September 06 2021 - News

Developing and successfully launching a new product in today’s market brings plenty of challenges. To overcome many of them, the first company I worked for in the food industry, almost 20 years ago, organized Open Kitchen Days. Their goal was to discuss new trends and market challenges, and to co-develop innovative products on the spot, together with our customers and suppliers. Having started as CEO of IQI Trusted Petfood Ingredients earlier this year, I noticed that this is far less common in the pet food industry, even though this way of working offers great potential.

The pet food market has been developing rapidly in recent years, with increasing demand and new consumer trends, such as humanization, premiumization, and functional ingredients. There are many aspects to consider when developing new products to satisfy these trends, such as functional, technical, and supply chain issues with ingredients. On top of that, our industry is now facing a mismatch between supply and demand of raw materials, as I discussed in my previous blog. This makes it increasingly important to combine our efforts and work together as an industry.

Close collaboration with customers and suppliers

By taking a more proactive approach, we at IQI would like to work more closely with our customers and suppliers at the early stages of product development. Co-development and co-creation brings a number of benefits. On the one hand, we can identify new trends and developments at a very early stage and work together with our suppliers in setting up a supply chain for specific ingredients in anticipation of customer demand. On the other hand, through close collaboration with our customers and suppliers, we can determine the optimal ingredients at an early stage before a new product is launched on the market.

All-round expertise at an early stage

By involving us at the early stages of product development, we can contribute all of our expertise and that of our suppliers, and help our customers to take full advantage of the most recent and superior ingredients for their products. Besides the functional aspects and technical properties, we can also advise on all aspects of the supply chain, including the sustainability and availability of ingredients. Through close cooperation between IQI, our suppliers, and pet food manufacturers, we can select the optimal ingredients based on the product requirements, identify and overcome any possible supply chain issues, or find suitable alternative ingredients.

Redevelopment of recipes

Especially in the current situation, ingredients may not be readily available or the shipping costs might be higher than the price of the ingredients themselves. I don’t foresee this situation being resolved in a matter of just a few months. The logistics crisis can therefore also be a good motivation for the redevelopment of existing recipes using alternative ingredients. At IQI, we can suggest alternative ingredients with similar technical properties or functional health claims that may be easier to source, more cost-effective, and could have other advantages over the former choice of ingredient.

Making true functional health claims

Our early involvement helps to ensure that pet food manufacturers get exactly the right ingredients for their products and are able to make true functional health claims. As my colleague Geert van der Velden will show in his upcoming blog, an interesting example is omega-3 fatty acids, which can potentially be used to meet four of the five most popular functional health claims. But, as he explains in one of his previous blogs, this all depends on including the right type of omega-3 fatty acid in the right amounts. There is a big difference between the short-chain ALA and the long-chain EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids, which can be found in different amounts in different ingredients from different suppliers.

Supply chain considerations

The beneficial long-chain EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids can be found in ingredients such as high-omega-3 fish oil, full-fat krill meal, and algae. The ultimate choice of ingredient depends on the considerations of the pet food manufacturer, which may include a choice between animal or plant-based ingredients or supply chain issues. There are many considerations involved in choosing fish oil, for example, including sustainability of the fishing industry, social impact on communities in developing countries, long-term availability, certifications, and global shipping of ingredients.

Co-development and co-creation

Through co-development and co-creation, we can proactively inform our clients about changes and developments in the availability of ingredients or help to find suitable alternatives. As I wrote at the beginning of this blog, co-development has been quite common in the food industry for decades. My ambition is to increase our focus on co-development and co-creation in the pet food industry by working in close partnerships with our suppliers and customers, as well as research institutes. This will enable pet food manufacturers to react quicker to emerging trends and help pave the way for more innovation – building further on a sustainable and resilient pet food industry.

Vision paper

If you are interested in discussing the possibilities of co-creation and co-development, please get in touch: [email protected]

For more information on what IQI has to offer, download our vision paper:

Or watch our corporate video:


About Mark Oostendorp

Mark Oostendorp is IQI Trusted Petfood Ingredients’ Chief Executive Officer (CEO), responsible for managing our facilities in the Netherlands and the USA and giving further shape to IQI’s strategic choices and the continuous icrease of added value within the petfood supply chain. Mark has more than 25 years of international leadership experience for different companies in the fields of food, agriculture and biotechnology. 


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