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‘Protecting’ and promoting astaxanthin as a key ingredient for premium pet food

June 05 2023 - Blog

Thermostability is a well-known, critical issue for pet food manufacturers. In short, it means that the unique structure and chemical properties of an ingredient stay intact while heating it during the manufacturing process – assuring the maximum activity in the remaining product. Astaxanthin from IQI is specially treated to make it thermostable, protecting the ingredient’s activity to maximize its health benefits for pets. 

The need for treating an ingredient in advance of processing it, mostly depends on its particular chemical structure. While some ingredients are particularly fragile and will always need a certain treatment, some are naturally (thermo)stable. Heating untreated natural astaxanthin – as part of the manufacturing process – will lead to a significant loss of the potent antioxidant and inflammatory properties that it’s so famous for. This in turn will impact its contribution to health benefits like immune defense, muscle function and recovery. 

‘Protecting’ maximum activity

As of October 2022, IQI has been working together with AstaReal in Sweden to bring their innovative and science-based version of astaxanthin, Novasta® EB15, to the European pet food market. The product they supply comes as a red powder, which only contains 1.5% astaxanthin. Because it is encapsulated in fully hydrogenated rapeseed oil though, it is particularly resilient against food processing effects. This assures the maximum activity of the ingredient. AstaReal cultivates the most abundant source of natural astaxanthin, the freshwater microalgae Haematococcus pluvialis, in-house in closed photobioreactors under sterile conditions, making it a clean, green, and sustainable source. 

Supporting older pets and performance

As antioxidants are strongly associated with slowing down food degradation among pet food manufacturers, I often have to explain that astaxanthin is much more of a premium solution for the animal itself. Older pets are especially served with the ingredient, as it inhibits lipid peroxidation, improves brain function, and helps to maintain cognition, vision and immunity. Since astaxanthin helps muscles to recover faster after physical effort, it can also be used in food for racing dogs and horses to improve performance. Since most pellets for racing animals are manufactured with added heat, the treated product Novasta® EB15 can be a solution here. 

More promotion needed

As health promotion is increasingly driving the European pet food market, the demand for premium ‘pet superfoods’ that support healthy joints, skin and coat, cognition, vision, immune defense and digestion is growing. Pet parents not only seek these benefits in standard food for their four-legged companions, but also in treats and functional snacks. Partly due to humanization however, familiarity with an ingredient is often essential for them to seek it in pet food – a status that vitamins, minerals, collagen and omega-3 and other well-known ingredients have already achieved. This is where astaxanthin is running behind. Clearly, when it comes to the ‘king of carotenoids’, there’s still a lot of explaining and promoting to do.  

Download our whitepaper on astaxanthin

Have I made you hungry for more detailed information about astaxanthin and how it may serve your pet food brand? Read the whitepaper ‘Natural astaxanthin: how the ‘king of carotenoids can upgrade pet food’ from my colleague Geert van der Velden, Innovation Manager at IQI. 

About Lukasz Tyburski 

Lukasz Tyburski is IQI Trusted Petfood Ingredients’ European Sales Manager and responsible for building upon our long-lasting partnerships, as well as creating new ones. Lukas is both commercially strong and has a lot of knowledge in the field of animal healthcare and nutrition, bringing a degree in Veterinary Medicine and years of field experience working as a Veterinary Surgeon. He has been with IQI since 2022. 

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