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MicroHarvest, VEGDOG Launching Dog Treat with First-of-its-Kind Microbial Protein Ingredient

By Pet Age Staff//April 24, 2024//

MicroHarvest, VEGDOG Launching Dog Treat with First-of-its-Kind Microbial Protein Ingredient

By: Pet Age Staff//April 24, 2024//

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German biotech startup MicroHarvest recently announced it has teamed up with animal-free pet food producer VEGDOG to unveil first-of-its-kind microbial protein dog treat. The novel treat will be presented to the pet food industry on May 6 at the 2024 Pet Food Forum Europe, which takes place in Nuremberg, Germany during Interzoo Europe.

The innovative VEGDOG Pure Bites snack, which is a first for the dog food market in Europe, combines the new microbial protein from MicroHarvest with tasty potato and apple pomace. Thanks to its hypoallergenic properties, it is particularly suitable for dogs that cannot tolerate conventional protein sources. The high tolerance and digestibility as well as the delicious taste make it the first choice for dogs with severe intolerances and allergies. This also makes VEGDOG Pure Bites interesting for use in veterinary practice.

MicroHarvest’s microbial ingredient footprint, at 1.4 kg CO2 equivalent per kilogram of product, offers a sustainability edge equal to insect proteins and significantly surpassing that of plant-derived proteins.

Pet food has been a focus application market from the onset for MicroHarvest. They recently partnered with a Wageningen University Masters program to conduct the first acceptance study for microbial protein amongst dog owners in the UK and Germany, countries that represent two of the largest premium dog food and treats markets in Europe.

The study surveyed 1,162 UK and German dog owners and found significant interest, with 77.2 percent of respondents willing to purchase dog treats containing microbial protein in their composition and 78.4% of the dog owners willing to buy complete dog food containing the protein.

Although other innovative pet food products have explored microbial sources like yeasts and mycelium as ingredients, this specific product is the first to be designed with microbial protein derived from bacteria that have been part of our diets for centuries in foods like kimchi, kefir and sauerkraut.

A subsequent palatability study carried out by MicroHarvest found that dogs showed a 10 percentage points higher acceptance rate of microbial protein treats compared to those made exclusively with poultry.

MicroHarvest co-founder Katelijne Bekers explains: “Our partnership with VEGDOG, coupled with the results of our consumer research, demonstrates the potential for microbial ingredients like ours to offer competitive protein alternatives to the pet food industry. Sustainability is becoming increasingly important for pet food shoppers. Still, there are other purchase drivers to consider, like palatability, digestibility, as well as specific nutritional benefits, like low-fat content; these are all benefits that our protein over-delivers on. With increasing pressure on the supply chain of animal-derived protein ingredients, our solution is a great way to differentiate the protein source choice for pet food manufacturers, being both highly reliable and scalable.”

VEGDOG founder and CEO, Tessa Zaune-Figlar: “Our goal at VEGDOG is to show dog owners that they do not have to rely on meat-based products to feed their pets. With this modern approach and our high-quality, healthy and tasty products, we have been able to pioneer a new market. By collaborating with our partner MicroHarvest, we are opening a new chapter and bringing to market a promising snack that demonstrates our ability to innovate.”

Dr. Carla Steffen, head of R&D at VEGDOG, further explains: “At VEGDOG, we are constantly searching for innovative protein sources that benefit our dogs as well as our planet. It is of high importance to us to formulate our products based on scientific evidence. As the microbial protein of MicroHarvest is proven to be highly digestible, palatable and sustainable, it ticks all of these boxes.”

With a global protein demand forecasted to grow 50 percent by 2050, by applying modern technology to millennia-old fermentation techniques, MicroHarvest is capable of producing tons of high-quality microbial protein ingredients in just 24 hours, offering a highly scalable and consistent protein solution.

Ally Motta, animal nutritionist and application specialist at MicroHarvest commented: ‘’Testing has confirmed that our protein ingredient has a stable nutritional profile containing all the essential amino acids for dogs. Furthermore, In a live palatability study, we found that the treats containing our ingredient were enthusiastically accepted by 85 percent of dogs trialed, while treats containing solely poultry meal had a 75 percent acceptance rate. This confirms the viability of MicroHarvest protein as a rewarding and nutritious treat for dogs.”