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IQI takes the lead in boosting co-creation in the pet food industry

August 28 2023 - Blog

At the last edition of Petfood Forum we invited a number of our suppliers to join us at our customer event. We took this initiative because we feel that it is very important to stimulate open conversations and discussions between our suppliers and our customers. Facilitating the product experts from both sides to engage in depth is a great way to boost transparency, innovation, and collaboration in our industry and embark on our climate journey together. 

Active discussions on co-creation

As I wrote in my last blog, ‘Experience our open table’ was the theme of our booth at Petfood Forum 2023 and it achieved its desired effect. Having our suppliers at our event initiated active discussions between their and our customers’ product developers. It was very inspiring to take a deep dive into the subject matter together and explore the possibilities of different ingredients. This experience underlines my belief that by working closely together with both our suppliers and our customers, we can co-create unique, sustainable pet food ingredients with added value and of consistent high quality. 

IQI’s role in the co-creation process

So where does IQI come in? Our suppliers usually cater to different industries, including human food, aquaculture, and feed. Pet food is often out of their scope because of the many specific requirements, legislation aspects, quality demands, and the fragmented market. IQI’s role, as a frontrunner in sustainability in the pet food industry, is to support our suppliers in developing their ingredients for the pet food market by entering into a sustainable, long-term partnership. Developing an ingredient from feed to pet food, for example, requires a very different product development method and a different way of working specifically catered to the pet food market. Human food and pet food are more closely related, sharing many claims as well as innovative and marketing aspects. 

Fermented plant-based protein

One of the suppliers who joined us at our booth is Houdek. IQI recently launched Protéger™, a plant-based fermented protein specifically produced for the pet food industry by Houdek, using its patented fermentation process. This novel and sustainable protein with high digestibility and palatability is the result of a co-creation process between Houdek and IQI. Its development is a response to the growing market interest in and worldwide demand for alternative proteins for pet food. Within our partnership, we supported this development from the viewpoints of legislation and market positioning. We are working closely together with FEDIAF in the EU and AAFCO in the US on offering solutions for the fast-growing, plant-based, dog food market.  

Tweaking ingredients

Other suppliers at our event were Proliver to talk about chicken protein products, Fiordo Austral on dried and hydrolyzed salmon, Corbion on Algae DHA, and CSF on lamb meal. We worked in a co-creation process with Proliver and Fiordo Austral to develop and certify dried proteins for the pet food market. Fiordo Austral wants to meet the high demand for dried salmon in North America and Proliver is interested in making higher protein content claims with dried chicken versus fresh chicken. The latter is also more expensive and difficult to process. 

Together with Corbion, our supplier of Algae DHA omega-3 long-chain fatty acids, we have been developing a completely new formula that is even better suited to the needs of the pet food industry. This ingredient will be introduced soon. Likewise, we are working together with CSF, using their dried chicken to create a product that can be fully tailored to the pet food industry. We have advised these different suppliers on such things as the processing possibilities, legislation issues, and raw material supply chains to get products that they can source and produce, and that customers are asking for. 

Cooking and discussing at our ‘open table’

Following the talks at our booth, we hosted an ‘Experience our open table’ event on Tuesday evening. At this event, we prepared dishes under the guidance of a professional chef, using the human food equivalent of various pet food ingredients that we supply. Cooking with similar ingredients to the ones with which we, our suppliers, and our customers work was a fun way to get serious about pet food ingredients. It inspired many interesting talks and discussions. I think this might just become a new annual tradition for us in Kansas. 

Driver for co-creation

Our initiatives at Pet Food Forum 2023 have been a real driver for co-creation with our partners, suppliers, and customers. The discussions at Pet Food Forum have initiated several new co-creation projects. One of these is based on talks about Corbion’s Algae DHA, which has inspired a factory visit to further explore the possibilities of these sustainable omega-3 long-chain fatty acids. 

Are you also interested in exploring the prospect of co-creation? Please contact me to discuss the possibilities!

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