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November 07 2022 - News
The recent edition of Superzoo in Las Vegas highlighted the fact that health and wellness claims are a strong, ongoing trend in the pet food industry. And this is no longer primarily in the domain of wet and dry pet food. I was amazed to see so many new snacks and treats with a wide range of health and well-being claims. Making claims supporting anything from a healthier skin and coat to better cardiovascular, heart, and joint health requires careful selection of the right ingredients.
Manufacturers of snacks and treats with health and wellness claims are responding to the conflicting situation in which pet parents find themselves. On the one hand, they want to treat their pets to a snack or treat outside of their regular diet. On the other hand, they increasingly realize that a healthy diet is essential for giving cats and dogs a long, healthy, and comfortable life. Health and well-being claims on pet food packaging can help them make the right choices, both for regular pet food and more responsible snacks and treats.
A number of the health and wellness claims I noticed at Superzoo related to gut health. This is no coincidence. Healthy digestion is the most important health and well-being claim, according to a recent survey amongst almost 1,400 consumers in North America that I highlighted in an earlier blog post. A combination of prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics can help to support optimal gut health. A crucial aspect is achieving the right amount and combination of natural dietary fibers in pet food, as I explained in one of my previous blogs, helping the beneficial bacteria in the gut to thrive and boost the immune system.
A healthy gut is often referred to as the basis of good health. Studies show that at least 80% of the immune function, for example, happens in the digestive tract. Specific pet food ingredients can help to further boost the immune system. Spray-dried chicken plasma, the subject of another blog post, is a good example of a functional protein rich in immunoglobulin G (IgG), which protects the body from infection. Other ingredients beneficial to the immune system are long-chain omega-3 fatty acids and astaxanthin. The latter plays an important role in combating viruses and bacteria, and is 6,000 times more potent than vitamin C and 800 times stronger than Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10).
The long-chain omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) offer many more possibilities for health and well-being claims. They can also be very beneficial for muscle, joint, and bone health, for example, which is the second most popular health and well-being claim and was also clearly represented at Superzoo. Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids can help to manage joint inflammation, but also benefit heart health and cardiovascular health, which in turn stimulates mobility. Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids can be found in fish oil or algae DHA, as you can read in my blog post on this subject.
Besides the attention to long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, I noticed that collagen was a buzzword at Superzoo. Collagen promotes bone development and healthy joints for mobility. Animals produce their own collagen, but as they age, collagen production slows down. Exposure to environmental toxins, smoke, or UV rays also negatively affects collagen production. Collagen can be found in functional dried chicken proteins. Another version new to this trend is collagen peptides, which consist of short chains of amino acids derived from collagen and increase bone density.
Pet parents do not just want their cat or dog to be healthy, but also to look healthy with a nice skin and coat. Skin and coat care is the third most popular health and well-being claim. Both collagen and EPA and DHA long-chain omega-3 fatty acids have the added benefit of supporting a healthy skin and coat. This is not merely a soft claim: these ingredients have been recognized by the EU as meeting the particular nutritional needs (PARNUTs) of animals.
Would you like to know more about choosing the right ingredients for making health and wellness claims? Download our latest white paper ‘Finding the right ingredients to support health and well-being claims’, which covers a variety of ingredients to meet the five most popular health and well-being claims.
Geert van der Velden is IQI Trusted Petfood Ingredients’ Innovation Manager responsible for Business Development, generating new products and concepts that meet the needs of existing and new customers. Geert has more than 25 years’ experience in the international pet food industry and has gained knowledge and experience in many sections of IQI’s business.