Pulses Breaking Into Pet Food Markets - PulseResearch
April 25, 2017
Researchers examine pulse starches as a healthier option for pet and aquaculture food
Pet food manufacturers are always looking for ways to make their products healthier and more attractive to pet owners. That is good news for the pulse sector, especially since research out of the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) is looking at the use of slowly digestible pulse starches compared to more standard carbohydrate sources, such as corn starch, for pet and aquaculture food.
Dr. Lynn Weber is an associate professor with Veterinary Biomedical Sciences at the U of S and the lead researcher of a threeyear project comparing carnivorous species, namely cat and rainbow trout, to omnivorous species, dog and tilapia, in their ability to digest carbohydrates from pulses, theglycemic responses to single feedings, and health effects in longer-term pulse-based feeding trials.
“Carbohydrates are poorly tolerated in carnivorous species, while omnivores tend to tolerate higher dietary levels,” Weber says. “Since protein is often the costliest portion of an animal feed, maximizing the amount of carbohydrate produces a more economical feed.”
This is where pulses are showing great promise.
“The slower digestibility of pulse starches are hypothesized to produce lower glycemic index, lower insulin levels, and fewer adverse health effects compared to the rapid digestibility and higher glycemic index of corn starch,” Weber says.
Once complete, the project (which received funding from Saskatchewan Pulse Growers) will provide scientifically-supported information the pulse sector and other industry partners can use to open new markets for pulses in aquaculture, as well as to expand existing pet food markets, not only in North America, but also in Europe and Asia.
“If a wide number of markets for pulse carbohydrates can be expanded worldwide, then demand for Saskatchewan pulses will increase substantially,” Weber says.
One potential market is the production of new products for humans and domestic species using purified pulse starches. This is why pulse processor AGT Food and Ingredients Inc. became involved in the project – to obtain information to help market the starch fraction from pulses that is currently lacking. They want the human and domesticated species food markets to consider pulses based on benefits such as better health.
Another partner in the project is local pet food manufacturer Horizon Pet Foods. Horizon plans to use the findings, particularly the new information about cats, to further market its products as well. A leader in using pulses in pet foods – they recently launched a lentil-based dog food and continue to use pea starch in its other dog and cat foods.
Weber says continued work needs to be done to adjust the taste of the product since pulses can be bitter, especially when raw. And since pet and aquaculture feeds are usually sold in a dry pellet form, further understanding of how extrusion conditions affect starch structure and digestibility is needed before the full marketing potential of pulses can be realized.
SPG Investment: $207,000
Project Length: 3 years
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council - $312,000
AGT Food and Ingredients Inc. - $75,000 (cash) and $22,500 (in-kind)
Horizon Pet Foods - $7,500 (in-kind)
Project Lead: Dr. Lynn Weber - Associate Professor, Veterinary Biomedical Sciences, University of Saskatchewan