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Exotic Ingredients. Greg Aldrich, PhD Pet Food & Ingredient Technology, Inc. Outline. Petfood ingredient listings: 1980’s to present Premise – What constitutes an exotic ingredient Examples of exotic ingredients found in pet foods Rationale – Why are we using these ingredients

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Exotic Ingredients

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Exotic Ingredients

Greg Aldrich, PhD

Pet Food & Ingredient Technology, Inc.

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  • Petfood ingredient listings: 1980’s to present

  • Premise – What constitutes an exotic ingredient

  • Examples of exotic ingredients found in pet foods

  • Rationale – Why are we using these ingredients

    • Sales & Marketing

    • Health & nutrition

  • Gaps and (or) cautions

    • Dose, toxicity, acceptability

    • Product, market, regulations

  • Conclusions

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Corn Gluten Feed

Meat and bone meal

Soybean Meal

Animal Fat

Wheat bran


Brown Rice

Chicken meal

Lamb, lamb meal


Fish oil

Beet pulp

Past to Present: Innovations in ingredients

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Today – Ingredient Listing

  • ….. tapioca, jicama, yams, pumpkin, flaxseed, alfalfa meal, blueberries, cranberries, eggs, peas, parsley, artichoke, fennel, kale, rosemary, …….

  • ….. Organic Quinoa, Sweet Potatoes, Spinach, Parsley, Organic Kelp, Rosemary, Vitamins and Minerals

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Ingredient Listing (2)

  • …… Coconut Oil, Dried Plasma, Dried Whey, L-Arginine, L-Lysine, Inositol, Methylated Sulfur, Coriolis Mushroom, Shiitake Mushroom, Maitake Mushroom, Garlic, Coenzyme Q10, Beta 1,3 Glucans, Colostrum, Dried Thymus, Olive Leaf, Garlic, Aloe, Pau D’Arco, Birch Bark Extract, Propolis, Milk Calcium, Plums, Lactoferrin, Lactoperoxidase, Barley Grass, Wheat Grass, Desiccated Sea Plankton, Artichoke, etc.

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  • Common: widely existing, general, prevalent

  • Novel: new and unusual, being the first of its kind

  • Exotic: foreign, strange or different in a way that is striking or fascinating, enticing

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Novel Ingredients

  • Common ingredients in our own [human] diet

  • Not traditionally considered for our pets

  • Products often marketed as “holistic,” “hypoallergenic,” “exclusionary”

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What is a Novel Ingredient?

  • Meats - venison, rabbit, duck

  • Carbs - sweet potatoes, millet, tomato pomace

  • Fruits - apples, apricots, pomegranates

  • Vegetables - spinach, broccoli, collard greens, alfalfa sprouts

  • Other - cod-liver oil, marigold extract, kelp, and shark cartilage

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Historical Perspective

  • Trends for the future – last season’s exotic ingredient is this year’s novel ingredient and next season’s mainstream ingredient

  • Examples: Flax, tapioca, potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, venison, tomato pomace, green lipped mussel, etc.

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What is an Exotic Ingredient?

  • Heretofore exclusive to human foods and confections

  • Beyond novel and customary

  • Rare, or seldom found in a particular geography or market

  • Uncommon in pet foods

    • Recent and (or) limited use in pet foods

    • Shocking or head-turning

  • Stunt, absurd or strange

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Examples of Exotic Ingredients (1)

  • Meat, Poultry, Fish:

    • Beaver, Brushtail (Possum), Unagi (Eel), Wild Boar, Sea Cucumber

  • Seeds and Fruit:

    • Chia, Quinoa, Amaranth, Acai Berries, Saskatoon Berries, Black Currants, Goji Berries, Yumberry

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Examples of Exotic Ingredients (2)

  • Vegetables & Roots:

    • Bamboo, Bok Choy, Fenugreek Sprouts, Jicama

  • Oils

    • Tea Tree Oil, Krill Oil, Coconut Oil, Sesame Oil, Almond Oil, cetyl-Myristoleate

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Examples of Exotic Ingredients (3)

  • Bacteria, Fungi, Plankton:

    • Coriolus Mushrooms, Shiitake Mushrooms, and Maitake Mushrooms, Kefir, Plankton

  • Herbs Spices and Nutraceuticals:

    • Hawthorne Berries, Astragalus, Angelica Root, Milk Thistle, Olive Leaf, Pau D’Arco, Birch Bark Extract, Propolis, Slippery Elm Bark, Wild Yam Root, Boswellia Serrata, Devils Claw, Nettles

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Why Are We Using These Ingredients?

  • Sales & Marketing?

  • Health & nutrition?

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Sales & Marketing?

  • Differentiation (something…any little thing) that allows one to be different from the competitor

  • Attractive features, benefits, and associations

  • Humanization, anthropomorphism

  • Variety for pet (owner)

  • Elitism (ego - pet food company and pet owner)

  • Market niche exploitation

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Alternative Pet Food Segment Performance Relative to Total U.S. Pet Food Market: 2003-2007 (percent, growth rate)

* Including organic. ** More than 1,000%.

Source: Packaged Facts January 2009 Pet Food in the U.S. report.

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  • Foods containing and (or) featuring “exotic” ingredients constitute at most 1-2% of the market.

  • Volume of $170 to 340 million

  • Double digit growth rate

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Percent of U.S. Consumers Who Have Purchased Beverage Products in the Last 12 Months Because of Special Nutritional Benefits, 2009

Source: Packaged Facts online poll/May 2009 Functional Foods and Beverages in the U.S., 4th Edition report

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Percent of U.S. Consumers Who Have Purchased Food or Beverage Products in the Last 12 Months Because of Specific Nutritional Content, 2009

Source: Packaged Facts online poll/May 2009 Functional Foods and Beverages in the U.S., 4th Edition report

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Health & Nutrition

  • Exclusionary protein source

  • Gluten-free alternative

  • Omega 3 alternative

  • Other unique fatty acids

  • Antioxidants

  • Antifungal

  • Antibacterial

  • Anti-inflammatory

  • Anti-carcinogenic

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Amount in Diet

  • Exclusionary diet - meats, seeds and roots – could exceed 20%.

    • Name on the label .001-3.0%

  • Fiber sources such as bamboo, and specialty oils, like krill oil - levels up to 3%.

  • Fruits, microbials, and herbs - less than 3% and are more than likely in quantities of less than 1/10 of a percent

    • The limited inclusion levels for many of these ingredients may actually be advantageous

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Gaps (Animal Health)

  • No studies in companion animals

    • Animal health

    • Toxicity

    • Long term effects

    • Metabolic effects

    • Efficacy

    • Palatability and (or) acceptability

    • Effects on stool quality

    • Post-ingestive tolerance.

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Gaps – Product, Market, Regulatory

  • Lack information on processing effects on the active compounds

  • Lack ingredient effects on petfood processing (e.g. heat penetration, gelatinization)

  • Limited regulatory recognition or acceptance

  • Limited consumer recognition

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  • The petfood industry has continued to grow because of product innovation, maintaining the focus on the best interest of the pet, and holding pet owner confidence by being open and responsible

  • Some exotic ingredients have the potential to provide substantial benefit to pets and pet-owners

  • Well intentioned companies promoting foods with exotic ingredients that lack pet-specific validation and a legal basis put pets and the industry at risk.

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A Call to Action

  • Need for published

    • Safety and efficacy data

    • Complete nutrient/chemical profiles

    • Acceptability and tolerance information

    • Food processing information

    • Purchasing and quality criteria

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The End

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