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K-State Today

November 30, 2016

K-State hosts Pet Food Experience and Petfood Innovation Workshop

Submitted by Kiley Moody

Participants making pet food treats.

More than 100 research scientists, industry leaders, faculty and students met to explore research and new technologies in pet foods and nutrition Sept. 13 at K-State's Manhattan campus.

The Petfood Innovation Workshop focused on meat and novel proteins. Participants heard lectures about proteins properties, shelf life and sensory results, and immune generated peptides from wild animals, such as hyenas, that may have human applications. Faculty from K-State also shared information about resistant starches, safe methods for processed meat product production, models to identify unique compounds found in co-products of the human foods industry, and process effects in extrusion with leading grains like sorghum.

Jeff Gill with Tallgrass Brewery presented the keynote and discussed lessons he's learned from starting a new company in the exciting craft-brewing industry and shared some of the parallels to the landscape in the pet food industry. Posters from graduate students were on display featuring work from a variety of laboratories in pet nutrition, processing, sensory, engineering and others. The participants also were treated to campus activities and participated in a hands-on workshop featuring new technology in the production of high meat foods and introduced various novel proteins in new applications.

Laird Veatch, deputy athletic director at K-State Athletics, provided insight into brand building and how to refine and hone the image of brands after they have been established.

Workshop participants traveled from 21 states in the U.S., from Canada and Thailand. About a dozen self-identified themselves as part of the leadership in their company. A number of the participants were attending their first pet food industry meeting seeking information about technology, production facilities, and new market ideas, potential collaborators and new hires. Supporting this effort were 20 faculty and program staff, community speakers and 20 graduate and undergraduate students active in the pet food program. The latter served as hosts, volunteers and program content via posters and presentations.

The Kansas State University Institute for Commercialization provided leadership and was instrumental in the coordination of the Pet Food Experience and Petfood Innovation Workshop in conjunction with Watt Global Media.

"The experience and workshop were a great opportunity to showcase the breadth and depth of pet food research being conducted at Kansas State University and piqued industry participants' interest in our ability to innovate," said Rebecca Robinson, director of economic development for the Kansas State University Institute for Commercialization. 

The next event will be in late fall 2017 with a feature on the use of grains in modern pet food in reply to the current movement of pet foods to grain free products.

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