How insect protein is helping pet allergies
Most pet food is based on recipes using red and white animal meats as the main ingredient mixed together with vegetables and grains, however alternative protein sources like insects, seaweed and hemp are on the rise and believed to help with allergies.
Insect-based pet foods currently make up around 7 per cent of the total global pet food market, being worth around US$7 billion in 2021. However, that number is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 9.3 per cent, and will eventually reach a market value of US$17.3 billion by 2031, according to the FMI report.
One of the main reasons for the growth of the insect-based pet food market is the impact it is having on pet health. Many traditional pet foods mix their meat ingredients with grains as part of the manufacturing process – something which cats’ and dogs’ stomachs can find difficult to break down.
Increasingly, grain-free, alternative protein recipes are being used to combat health concerns in pets, such as skin irritation, excessive gas, runny stools and ear infections.
“The allergy situation in our domestic animals is a real issue,” Pernilla Westergren told Inside FMCG, chief executive and founder of Swedish insect-based pet food brand PetGood.
“Some of the biggest allergies we see in dogs and cats are reactions to beef, chicken and wheat, and many commercial pet foods will have multiple of these ingredients mixed into their recipe.”
Insects, however, are not a typical part of the diet of cats and dogs and are considered a source of novel protein: meaning insect protein is considered hypoallergenic, and is less likely to cause dietary sensitivities.
Additionally, with pet food taking up around 25 per cent of farmed meat, the industry generates a significant environmental footprint. According to a study published by UK and German researchers in 2020, the environmental impact of the pet food industry globally is equal to countries such as Mozambique or the Philippines.
“[Farming insects] requires significantly fewer resources in terms of water, land usage and energy wastage,” said Westergren.
“What’s also amazing is that because insects can subside on what we would consider food waste, they can turn that waste into high-quality protein. It’s more resource efficient than other sources of animal protein.”
Always consult with your vet before you make any major changes to your dog’s diet.