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K-State Today

November 16, 2017

K-State hosts Research and Development Showcase

Submitted by Kiley Moody

More than 150 research scientists, industry leaders, faculty and students met to explore research and new technologies in pet foods and nutrition at the Petfood Research and Development Showcase Oct. 10-12 at K-State. 

The theme of the event was "Going with the Grain" and provided information and insight for how grains can be effectively used in modern pet foods.

The first day of the showcase at the K-State Office Park highlighted innovative research on the use of novel and ancient grains. Faculty from K-State also shared information about using grain to enhance pet food nutrition and safety, and process effects in extrusion with leading grains like sorghum. Tim Hunt, owner of Dr. Tim's Pet Food Company, provided the keynote address with lessons from the trail while mushing in the Iditarod in Alaska. Hunt spoke about the importance of sound nutrition, including the use of grains in pet food to maximize performance. Posters from graduate students from Greg Aldrich's lab also were on display, featuring work from a variety of pet nutrition, processing and sensory projects.

"This was a great opportunity for students to interact with industry and gain input from those using the results from their research," Aldrich said. 

The development aspect of the showcase provided participants an opportunity to engage in six interactive lab demonstrations. Each emphasized the incorporation of whole and ancient grains — from ancient grain hydration capacity, impact on texture and visual appearance of finished treats, diversity of malted and sprouted grains, mixing functional enzyme impact, and lessons regarding novel flavors to create unique baked pet treats. The demonstrations were hosted by sponsor companies such as, Lortscher Animal Nutrition; LV Lomas; AIB International; Extru-Tech, Archer Daniels Midland, or ADM; Sensient Technologies; Briess Malt and Ingredients Company, and Bruker Optics from the grain science facilities on the north edge of campus. 

Chad Jackson, director of Center for the Advancement of Entrepreneurship, also provided a lunch keynote focusing on the entrepreneurial spirit in pet food and insights into brand building and the importance of innovation.

Participants attended from 25 states in the U.S. and from Canada. A dozen self-identified themselves as part of the leadership in their company. Many of the participants were attending their first pet food industry meeting in a quest for information about technology, links to production facilities, new market ideas, potential collaborators and new hires. Supporting this effort were 25 faculty and program staff, community speakers, and 30 graduate and undergraduate students active in the pet food program. The students also served as hosts, volunteers, and provided program content via posters and presentations.

The Kansas State University Institute for Commercialization, or KSU-IC, provided leadership and was instrumental in the coordination of the showcase in conjunction with the K-State grain science department and Watt Global Media.

"The showcase was a great opportunity to demonstrate 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 at the KSU-IC. 

The next event will take place in late fall 2018. For additional information, visit the K-State Pet Food Program website.