Importance of pets in a growing Italian pet food market

Writen by David

Every year the Italian National Association for Pet Food and Pet Care Companies (ASSALCO) in association with Zoomark International (a yearly international  pet products and accessories trade fair) produces an excellent report on the current state of the Italian pet sector.

It is always great to see data showing the current picture on how any pet sector (market size, pet population etc) is doing against a background of on-going global change and the ASSALCO – Zoomark International is a great example of how this data can be communicated to a wide audience. The 2016 report highlights that the Italian market grew both in terms of sales value (+4.1%) and volume (+0.9%) in 2015 which is great to see.

In line with markets in other countries, part of this growth can be accounted for through innovation in pet foods that support health and well-being of Italian cats and dogs.

Two further points are worth considering here: –

This openness in sharing information helps develop transparency in the pet food industry and wider aspects of the pet sector. Just think how great it would be if pet food manufacturing associations in other countries had a similar approach to presenting data in the public domain, as this helps build trust in the industry.

Another great feature of the 2016 report is it’s focus on pets in society and responsible pet ownership.

To learn more about novel ideas for innovation, including in health and well-being and also the role of pets in society, the Italian pet food sector are invited to attend the 1st Mediterranean Pet Food Seminar (MPFS). The 1st MPFS is being held in Pula, Croatia on 4 – 5 October 2016. Full details can be found at

The organizers of the 1st Mediterranean Pet Food Seminar David Primrose and Milka Kosanovic Tesla look forward to welcoming our friends from the Italian pet food industry (friends from other countries are also welcome) to Pula!


You are ingredient producer/supplier that is trying to enter the pet food/animal feed marked. Did you go through 3W?


Written by Milka


You are ingredient producer with a novel ingredient on the market. You are trying to get into new market of pet food or animal feed. Big volumes in feed and good pricing in pet food should set your business to a right earning track. This seems as a reasonable strategy. However, it isn`t so easy.

Before you start, you have to prepare yourself and your product for this journey. Of course, your product is fantastic, no doubt in that, but there are others (producers) that probably do not share your opinion. Why? Maybe they do not know much about your product.
Here are three important questions you need to document before you start to go to your prospective customers.

What my customer need?
Find out what are, your customer needs and if they need your product. If your product is just an alternative grain product or protein product, your discussion will only end up on price negotiations. What is the trend on the market, talk with your customers and see what they are focusing on. Is there any problem they are struggling with and do they expect to resolve it with the new ingredient?

Why prospect customer will be willing to purchase product?
They be willing to do that when you identify what is your customer need. You have to reflect on the product you are offering. Have your product something that can wake attention of your customer.
For example; is your product superior in protein content or maybe is it a key in an technological aid many producers “would kill for”? Is it extremely digestible or it is maybe natural palatability aid?

Who am I?
This is one of the most important question for your customer. Who are you and where are you coming from? How do you make your product and what is the process behind it? Do not be secretive because your customer will be suspicious and they can get impression that you are hiding something. There has been numerous quality scares on the market with a severe consequences and no producer will accept secretiveness.

How to answer on 3W’s

Product identification and application development

Start to map your ingredient properties. You should first make thorough literature search. Read what scientific journals have to say and then take a peak in internet searches to get the understanding what is already known about ingredient you are working with. Be critical to a stuff you find on the web. Scientific literature sometimes can be misleading. As an example, different extraction or preparation process can influence same ingredient to have different properties.

Proximate analyses is one of the first steps. Beside the standard proximate, analyse also amino acid profile, fatty acid profile, sugar profiles. Newer allow that your customer know more about your product than you do really. Sure, it costs money but it is more like a building the foundation of the house.

Identify functional behaviour of the ingredient. Functional properties of ingredients has long history of application in wet pet food, however dry pet food producers and feed producers are starting to embrace the idea that maybe some functional properties can have positive impact on final pellet/kibble texture and structure. Look more closely in to it.

Biological value of ingredient is important, as this is an indicator of ingredient quality. Pay attention when you are running digestibility and animal production tests that your ingredients are fresh (especially if it is ingredient from animal/fish origin). Old samples can affect negatively results.

In order to provide your customers with inclusion guidance you will need to run inclusion level trials. This can vary from animal species to age of animal. It is important to find minimal or maximal amount that will give best results and that you will be comfortable to recommend further.

Finally yet importantly, your ingredient will not have or will have impact on the feed/pet food production and final appearance of the pellet/kibble. Maybe you find your ingredient is a technological aid. Run the feed production trials and evaluate final product quality. Sometimes, no effect on physical quality is better than a negative effect. It is important to see if this ingredient can introduce some changes during production. It is important to find the best way to handle it, once it comes to the production place.

You do not have to do application testing by yourself. You can do it in a cooperation with your customer but then your findings are limited for re-use and you cannot use them as a reference with other customers. The best way is to invest in your own independent development. Your resources can do it independently and you can get help from application experts that can guide you through the whole process. Be sure to do all your documentation under “customer merits”, as only in that way your product could cover your customer’s needs.

Quality assurance
It is important that you really practice and follow the quality standards.
Provide the quality certificates and show that you are following best manufacturing practices. If you are in the process of certification, call in your customer. Best way to gain customer trust is to let them do audits of your production. In that way they can see if you really practicing “quality”.

Take direct contact for more information and possible application guidance at