New legislation seeks to assess US reliance on foreign supply chains

ARLINGTON, VA. — On April 15, US Representatives Ashley Hinson (R-Iowa) and Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.) introduced a bill to the House Committee on Agriculture intended to assess and address the United States’ reliance on certain agricultural imports. This includes the American animal feed and pet food industry’s dependence on China’s vitamin and amino acid supply.

The bill, Securing American Agriculture Act (H.R. 8003), would mandate that the US Secretary of Agriculture “to publish, on an annual basis, an assessment on the United States’ dependency on critical agricultural products or inputs from the People’s Repulic of China, and for other purposes.” The current US Secretary of Agriculture is Tom Vilsack.

The American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) has sounded the alarm about this supply chain threat before, and is now voicing its support of the new bill.

“We thank Congresswomen Hinson and Slotkin and bipartisan cosponsors for introducing the Securing American Agriculture Act — a bill that will help US decision-makers better understand how intrinsically linked our food and feed supply is with China’s input manufacturers as they manage the country’s delicate relationship with China,” said Constance Cullman, president and chief executive officer of the AFIA.

The United States’ reliance on China’s supply of certain essential ingredients is a major concern for the American animal food industry. According to the AFIA, China exclusively manufactures several  key vitamins, including vitamins B1, B3, B8, B11, B12, C, D3 and DK3, as well as 85% of the world’s supply of essential amino acids used in animal feed and pet food products.

“Consider that a staggering 94% of vitamin B6 and over 91% of vitamin C is imported from China,” wrote Gina Tumbarello, senior director of international policy and trade for the AFIA, regarding the topic in Pet Food Processing’s November 2023 issue. “Over 78% of all US vitamin imports come from China. According to recent data from Feedinfo, in 2022 China produced 73% and 62% of the world’s total feed-grade vitamin A and E respectively, and a staggering 94% of the total feed-grade vitamin B2.

“There simply is not enough global production capacity outside of China to meet US demand should there be a disruption in China’s vitamin supply,” she added.

The bill currently has 18 other co-sponsors in the House, representing a bipartisan effort.

“AFIA’s feed and pet food manufacturing members are gravely concerned about the United States’ dependency on China for vitamins and other critical inputs necessary to produce complete diets for America’s domestic livestock and pets,” Cullman said. “Just like us, animals require daily vitamins for healthy growth and development. Our industry is prepared to work with the federal government to do everything in its power to head off these risks before they cause catastrophic animal welfare, food security or economic repercussions.”

Stay up to date on the latest pet food processing industry headlines on our News page.

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Vital Pet Life ups membership status with Pet Sustainability Coalition

LOS ANGELES — Vital Pet Life, a women-owned pet wellness brand, announced April 15 it has upgraded its membership status with the Pet Sustainability Coalition (PSC) to the Guardian level. Vital Pet Life first joined the PSC in 2023 as a Champion-level member.

“Vital Pet Life is proud to continue our work as a sustainability leader within the pet wellness industry. Our PSC membership is an important part of that journey to elevate our corporate social responsibility,” said Donie Yamamoto, chief executive officer and founder of Vital Pet Life. “We couldn’t be prouder that our work, which has been focused on operating in the most sustainable way, now joins the ranks of others with similar goals.”

The PSC is a nonprofit pet industry organization providing tools and resources to help its membership base of nearly 200 companies reduce their environmental impacts and enhance their social responsibility initiatives.

“In order to achieve Pet Sustainability Accreditation, Vital Pet Life completed a thorough assessment of its business operations and passed a rigorous third-party verification process. Companies accredited through the program demonstrate year-over-year improvement and are committed to business practices that are better for the world around us,” said Hannah Tirrell-Wysocki, accreditation manager for the PSC.

Vital Pet Life is focused on providing sustainable and transparent pet wellness products, including fish oils and other pet supplements and grooming products. The company has partnered with rePurpose Global, as well as the Sustainable Packaging Coalition and How2Recycle, to address its plastic packaging waste, and its products are certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and the Aquaculture Stewardship Seafood Council (ASC). Vital Pet Life products are also validated for origin transparency by ORIVO.

“We are thankful to the Pet Sustainability Coalition for their collaboration, leadership and this recognition,” Yamamoto said.

Earlier this month, Yamamoto was named among Inc.’s 2024 Female Founders 250 list, joining two other pet industry entrepreneurs who were recognized for their business leadership. The company has also been included in the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing private companies in the United States for three consecutive years.

Read more about sustainability efforts across the pet food and treat industry.

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Pet Food Conference report: Exporting opportunities abound for pet food industry

ATLANTA ─ With the continued expansion of the pet food industry around the globe, pet food manufacturers have increasing opportunities to expand their distribution to markets beyond US borders. In 2022, the United States exported over $2 billion in pet food products, and according to Alexis Taylor, US Department of Agriculture (USDA) undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs, export growth for pet food will continue.

Pet food industry stakeholders attending the American Feed Industry Association’s Pet Food Conference on Jan. 30, held alongside the International Production & Processing Expo in Atlanta, had the opportunity to talk trade with Taylor and Ambassador Doug McKalip, chief agricultural negotiator for the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR). The two made it clear to attendees that the primary objective of their agencies is to help US companies, including those in the pet food industry, find more trade opportunities abroad.

Ambassador McKalip explained that facilitating and expanding agricultural exports is truly a group effort between both the USTR and USDA offices. 

“The tie between the US Trade Representative’s office and the USDA is very strong and that’s important because USTR is involved in breaking down market access barriers whether they be tariffs or regulatory issues,” McKalip said. “And then, the USDA team can go in through promotion and help to make willing buyers and willing sellers come together.”

Taylor added, “I think that relationship is really critical between USDA and USTR at all levels… Trade is all about relationships ─ we always talk about it as a trading ‘relationship,’ and the same is true within our agencies.”

US agricultural trade has broken records since 2021, and agencies see no signs of that slowing.

“Next month, when the final trade numbers for 2023 come out, it’s set to be another very strong year. And US pet food exports are a really important part of our overall export picture,” Taylor explained. “We’ve seen a lot of growth over the past five years of a handful of US food exports around the world [including pet food].”

Canada, China and Mexico continue to be the top three markets for US exports. Sixty percent of overall food and ag exports go to China, Mexico, Canada and the European Union. And while the United States will continue to support those markets, there is a push toward diversification and expansion into emerging markets, Taylor explained. 

“We’re seeing changing demographic trends around the world, and because of that, I think we also need to broaden our emphasis in other parts and other regions around the world,” she said. “We are looking at how we can support you as an industry and a sector to really tap into some of those new market opportunities for growth. I think diversification is an important tool.”

In October 2023, the USDA announced a new program ─ Regional Agricultural Promotion Program (RAPP) ─ to invest $1.2 million over the next five years to help expand into growth markets. Some areas of the world in which the United States is seeing growing trade opportunities include Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

Southeast Asia, in particular, is a significant growth region that offers export opportunities for US manufacturers. The area is seeing rapid gross domestic product growth and an expanding middle class economy. 

“And we know, as consumers are growing in that middle class, that they’re also thinking about their pets and their pets’ diets,” Taylor said. “I think that’s a great opportunity for our US pet industry.

“What we know is by getting into those markets early, we can build lifelong consumers of US food and ag products,” she added.

Pet food manufacturers still looking into exporting options can look to the USDA and USTR for tools, information and other ways to get involved. Pet food companies are invited to get involved in trade missions around the globe ─ both in person and virtually. In addition, the USDA supports a number of trade shows around the globe, in which US pet food companies are encouraged to participate.

Before entering the export arena, Taylor recommends learning about the market, the existing products and the consumers.  

“First and foremost, understand what the consumers are looking for ─ that’s one of the things we focus on during our trade missions,” Taylor explained. “We do market intelligence, bring in market experts from that area to help understand the market dynamics, and we look at products that are already out there.”

The USDA also offers reports on different markets around the world, including country spotlights, which include highlights on the regulatory environment in each country.

“That’s what we’re here for, to help companies like yours understand what’s going on, on the ground, in those markets,” Taylor explained. “Hopefully I can make connections and open the door to help facilitate what’s needed for you all to be able to expand those export opportunities.”

Find more articles related to pet food export opportunities and trade. 

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2024 Pet Food Conference homes in on critical topics

ATLANTA — About 400 pet food industry professionals gathered at the American Feed Industry Association’s (AFIA) annual Pet Food Conference, held Jan. 30 in conjunction with the International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE) in Atlanta. This year’s conference was held in an expanded space, demonstrating the testament of a rapidly growing pet food and treat industry.

From 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., the conference was packed with critical information for pet food processors — from the latest trends and sustainability topics to timely research, trade updates and more.


Emerging trends

Beginning the conference, Lynn Dornblaser, director of innovation and insight at Mintel, took a deep dive into the emerging trends in pet nutrition — personalization, naturalization and sustainability. Dornblaser first provided a brief overview of the rapidly growing industry, revealing that about one-third of new product launches in the pet food space during the past five years came from new brands and new companies. The number of  new product launches is significantly higher than those in the human food space, which are mostly focused on reformulations or new packaging.

With pet health meaning different things for pet parents, formula personalization is making its way to the forefront of the industry. One of the biggest trends in this space focuses on pet obesity. With pet weight issues rampant throughout the globe, many pet parents are seeking some type of personalized weight management formulas. Additionally, the popularity of pet DNA testing is on the rise, and that testing may pave the way for pet foods based on a pet’s specific DNA.

Lynn Dornblaser, director of innovation and insight at Mintel.

| Source: Sosland Publishing Co. / Nicole Kerwin

In the naturalization area, Dornblaser shared an increasing number of consumers are seeking nutritional products with more natural claims, such as additive- or preservative-free. This also aligns with the increasing demand for refrigerated/frozen pet foods. Although refrigerated and frozen accounted for just 1% of new product launches globally, these formats are the epitome of natural for consumers. With this in mind, Dornblaser said she anticipates the refrigerated/frozen pet food category is set for significant growth.

Sustainability remains important to pet parents and, therefore, for pet food companies. However, the infamous practice of greenwashing has caused consumers to become mistrustful of brands touting their eco-friendliness. According to Dornblaser, brands must back-up their sustainability claims on packaging with data and explanations.

Additionally, regenerative agriculture continues to flourish throughout the human food industry, but isn’t nearly as prevalent in pet food. Dornblaser said she expects this will change, as trends in human food usually trickle down into pet, and that there will emerge a future focus on decreasing water usage in production.


Rendering, packaging and research

Charles Starkey, Ph.D., vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs of the North American Renderers Associatoin (NARA), took the stage to highlight the important role  the rendering industry plays in pet food. Dubbed the “original recyclers” by Starkey, renderers offer pet food processors opportunities to enhance sustainability.

With consumers becoming more aware of their environmental impact, many pet food companies have re-examined their packaging to help advance their overall environmental initiatives. However, creating eco-friendly packaging that protects the product while also meeting consumers demands can be quite challenging, especially considering evolving sustainable packaging regulations.

Rafael Auras, Ph.D., professor at the School of Packaging at Michigan State University

Rafael Auras, Ph.D., professor at the School of Packaging at Michigan State University.

| Source: Sosland Publishing Co. / Nicole Kerwin

Rafael Auras, Ph.D., professor at the School of Packaging at Michigan State University (MSU), addressed this topic in his presentation at the Pet Food Conference. He revealed the true impacts of some packaging that consumers commonly believe to be more eco-friendly, and highlighted the importance of collaboration. According to Auras, future partnerships between academia (such as MSU’s School of Packaging), pet food companies and governmental agencies are crucial in order to develop truly eco-friendly packaging.

Following these presentations, several students presented their research, hitting home on important topics within pet food formulation.

  • Vanessa De La Guardia-Hidrogo of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign shared her research on yeast-based ingredients and their effect on microbiota fermentation within a dog’s gastrointestinal system.
  • Elaheh Rabiee of Kansas State University provided a consumer analysis on the inclusion of sorghum in North American pet foods.
  • Michelina Crosbie of the University of Guelph discussed her work in trying to determine protein quality in pet foods using the indicator amino acid oxidation technique. According to Crosbie, the research showed an improvement in overall oxidation response, but it’s not enough to fully determine protein quality.
  • Katelyn Bailey of Kansas State University ended the session with a dive into her analysis of pet food producers’ perceptions of sorghum as a potential ingredient.


2024 Friend of Pet Food Award

In the afternoon, the AFIA announced its 2024 Friend of Pet Food Award winner. The annual award aims to recognize an industry member for their significant contributions to the pet food and treat industry. Jerry May, vice president of government and trade affairs at Freshpet, presented the award to Angele Thompson, Ph.D., founder and president of Thompson PetTech.

Angele Thompson, Ph.D., founder and president of Thompson PetTech

Angele Thompson, Ph.D., founder and president of Thompson PetTech.

| Source: Sosland Publishing Co. / Nicole Kerwin

“I am very lucky to have gotten into the pet food industry at the beginning of my career and continue to contribute to the lives of pets and those who love them,” she said.


Busting myths

Continuing on the topic of sustainability, Frank Mitloehner, Ph.D., director of the CLEAR Center at the University of California, Davis, spoke on the true environmental impact of the overall agricultural industry, including the pet nutrition industry.

Frank Mitloehner, Ph.D., director of the CLEAR Center at the University of California, Davis

Frank Mitloehner, Ph.D., director of the CLEAR Center at the University of California, Davis.

| Source: Sosland Publishing Co. / Nicole Kerwin

With the basis of pet food relying on proteins from the agricultural industry, it’s estimated that 163 million pets account for 25% to 30% of the total environmental impact of meat consumption in the United States, according to Mitloehner. The cattle industry in particular has received a negative rap for the supposed significant amount of methane emissions it emits. However, as demonstrated by Mitloehner’s presentation, global total methane emissions hover around 558 million tons annually, while total sinks — natural environments that absorb methane from the atmosphere — that eat those emissions up hover around 548 million tons, meaning that around 10 million tons remain — not nearly as high as what’s believed.

Though emissions like methane may not be as high, the need remains for the global agricultural industry to reduce its mark on the environment. The best way for this? Ensuring high efficiency in animal agriculture. According to Mitloehner, regions throughout the world are witnessing growth in animal production, but this production is less efficient compared to that in the United States and more developed countries. To help address this, Mitloehner said that the industry should focus on increasing animal productivity and animal welfare, as these methods can help animals produce more (meat, milk, etc.) with fewer inputs. This could help reduce emissions by 30%, and also help pet food processors reduce their impact throughout the supply chain.


Trade updates

Constance Cullman, president and chief executive officer of the AFIA, was joined by Alexis Taylor, US Department of Agriculture (USDA) undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs, and Ambassador Doug McKalip, chief agricultural negotiator for the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), in a trade panel.

According to these representatives, US pet food and agriculture exports will continue to witness growth as both agencies seek to break down barriers and diversify US trade. Read more from this panel in our full report here.



Kelly Swanson, Ph.D., professor at the Department of Animal Sciences and Division of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, ended the conference with a deep dive into the world of biotics and their applications in pet nutrition.

As the understanding of pets’ microbiomes continues to evolve, biotics have come up as a way to help maintain gut balance. According to Swanson, the definitions of the different biotics are often conflated. For example, probiotics, prebiotics and synbiotics are all live microorganisms that must be provided in an adequate amount to offer a health benefit, whereas postbiotics are inanimate microorganisms that are purposely killed.

Though these biotics can be used in various formats to address varying issues in pets related to the gut, there can be many issues in using such microorganisms, according to Swanson. He highlighted that companies need to understand the specific biotic strain they’re working with, ensure adequate dosing, develop accurate labels — especially for consumers — and keep in mind the biotic’s viability.

As pet parents continue to purchase gut-focused pet products, nutritional products formulated with biotics will continue to grow in popularity. With this in mind, Swanson highlighted his expectations for the future, including:

  • More discovery of gut microbes in pets and how they respond to biotic treatment
  • New methods for cultivating biotics, potentially leveraging robotics, in vitro and artificial intelligence
  • A need for more novel sources to ensure continued availability
  • Innovation in new microorganism mixtures and formats
  • Enhanced personalization and precise dosing that is specific to each pet species

With all these presentations, attendees of AFIA’s 2024 Pet Food Conference walked away with valuable insights, and also had the opportunity to connect with subject matter experts to help them advance their businesses and support the overall growth of the industry.

Read more from AFIA’s 2024 Pet Food Conference.

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CVM strikes out-of-date policy for novel animal food ingredient process

ARLINGTON, VA. — Pet food and animal feed industry associations have applauded a decision by the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) that strikes down an antiquated regulatory policy regarding new feed ingredient approval.

According to the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA), the current policy — which dates back to 1998 — hindered the assimilation of new and innovative feed ingredients and additives to the marketplace in terms of both time and money. Taking a strict view of certain nutritive and non-nutritive ingredients, such as those that support food safety, sustainability, and animal health and wellbeing, as drugs has impeded ingredient innovation in the rapidly evolving US pet food and animal feed industries. This includes ingredients that promote digestive health and the gut microbiome — an increasing trend in pet nutrition.

“The AFIA welcomes the CVM’s intention to withdraw its nearly 30-year-old regulatory policy, which shows its commitment to partnering with animal food innovators,” said Constance Cullman, president and chief executive officer of the AFIA. “This action signifies progress toward fixing a broken process and will allow our industry to start providing innovations for animal production, but the need does not end here.”

According to David Fairfield, senior vice president of feed at the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA), the current regulatory approval process for novel feed ingredients can take more than three years.

“The decision announced by the FDA today will promote the introduction of innovative animal food products with production benefits that will help keep American agriculture competitive,” Fairfield said. “Notably, our global competitors in Europe, Asia and South America already have updated their policies to allow feed products on the market that demonstrate increased efficiency in meat production, as well as byproduct and waste reduction.”

Both Cullman and Fairfield went on to urge Congress to pass the Innovative Feed Enhancement and Economic Development (Innovative FEED) Act. The Innovative FEED Act is aimed at alleviating current logjams in the regulatory process for new feed ingredients and builds on the CVM’s recent decision.

With the adoption of the FEED Act, novel ingredients would be reviewed for safety and efficacy in the framework of food additives, rather than drugs, which would expedite their approval. It was first put before congress in December 2023 and is still awaiting a vote.

“Congress, now it’s your turn to act by swiftly by passing the bipartisan Innovative Feed Enhancement and Economic Development (Innovative FEED) Act (H.R.6687 and S. 1842), providing the FDA with the tools it needs to codify a regulatory pathway and support American animal food manufacturers,” Cullman said.

Fairfield added passage of the act “would establish legislative language for a new category of animal food additives that could improve animal production and wellbeing, diminish pre-harvest food safety concerns, and boost sustainability opportunities.”

Learn more about the Innovative FEED Act.

For moreregulatory news affecting the pet food market, visit our Regulatory page.

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NASDA backs AAFCO pet food label regulations

CHAMPAIGN ILL. and WASHINGTON — On Feb. 8, the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) announced it had received unanimous support from the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) for its revised Model Regulations for Pet Food and Specialty Pet Food. NASDA members voted on whether to support the model regulations during its Winter Policy Conference on Feb. 7.

The Model Regulations for Pet Food and Specialty Pet Food has been an eight-year project by AAFCO, aiming to enhance the transparency of pet food labels and provide consumers with clearer information about pet food formulas. Often referred to as pet food label modernization (PFLM), the model regulations were approved by AAFCO in July 2023.

Following its vote on Feb. 7, NASDA encouraged state feed regulatory programs that have regulatory authority over pet foods, to swiftly and uniformly adopt the regulations, while also respecting an individual state’s existing legal authorities and regulatory processes.

“The vote by NASDA members to support AAFCO’s revised Model Regulations for Pet Food and Specialty Pet Food underscores the importance of collaboration and innovation to safeguard animal health,” said Austin Therrell, executive director of AAFCO. “AAFCO is here to be a partner with and resource for state regulatory programs as they move forward with adopting the model regulations that will enhance transparency and provide clearer information on pet food packaging.”

The NASDA also encouraged feed regulatory programs to collaborate with pet food processors and distributors within their states to follow AAFCO’s recommended six-year transition period. During the transition period, state regulators are recommended to allow the distribution and sale of pet food products that comply with current state regulations or new model regulations.

“Pet food labels, like any other food label, should be clear and easy to understand so pet owners can make informed decisions about what they feed their pets,” said Blayne Arthur, president of the NASDA and Oklahoma agriculture secretary. “State feed regulatory programs agree to utilize enforcement discretion in the review of pet food labels. This action item showcases NASDA members’ commitment to transparent and consistent pet food labels across the United States. It prioritizes a seamless transition to the AAFCO model regulations adopted by its membership and agreed to by the pet food industry. NASDA looks forward to working with AAFCO and industry representatives.”

For more regulatory news affecting the pet food market, visit our Regulatory page.

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IPPE 2024 by the numbers

ATLANTA — After another successful trade show to start in 2024, the International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE) announced that it was its largest trade show floor ever, featuring 621,350 square feet of exhibit space and 1,427 exhibitors.

The show involved more than 31,000 poultry, egg, meat and animal food industry attendees representing more than 130 countries, organizers said on Jan. 31. IPPE officials said the final attendee number would be released after the registration database was audited for duplications.

Throughout the week, numerous companies showcased new products and services for all phases of the business, from live production and processing to further processing and packaging.

In its 2024 lineup, IPPE included more than 80 hours of education sessions, including information on animal agriculture sustainability, food safety, worker safety, animal food industry trends, poultry market trends and much more.

Other featured events include the International Poultry Scientific Forum, the Latin American Poultry Summit, Pet Food Conference, Food Safety Design Principles Workshop, Animal Agriculture Sustainability Summit, TECHTalks program, New Product Showcase and publisher-sponsored programs, all of which have been great contributions to the 2024 IPPE.

The expo is sponsored by the US Poultry & Egg Association, American Feed Industry Association and the Meat Institute.

Read more about pet food and treat industry events. 

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Proposed tinplate steel tariffs stopped in their tracks

ARLINGTON, VA. — The Consumer Brands Association is celebrating a “complete repudiation” of tin mill steel import tariffs proposed by Cleveland-Cliffs, a steel conglomerate, in mid-2023. On Feb. 6, the International Trade Commission (ITC) voted unanimously to reject a final duty determination posed by the Department of Commerce (DOC) and effectively put an end to Cleveland-Cliffs’ campaign to impose duties of up to 300%.

According to the International Trade Administration, the ITC has the last say in any antidumping and countervailing duty determinations, as it is the agency’s responsibility to investigate how those subsidized imports would injure US industry members — in this case, the canned goods industries. Upon review, the ITC voted against adopting duties proposed by the DOC in January, finding they would indeed harm US workers and consumers.

“The Consumer Brands-led effort has resulted in a true victory for US consumers and manufacturers with the International Trade Commission’s unanimous vote to reject new tariffs on tin mill steel,” said David Chavern, president and chief executive officer of the Consumer Brands Association. “…If the tariffs had been imposed at the levels requested by Cleveland-Cliffs, nearly 40,000 manufacturing jobs would have been put at risk, with consumer prices for canned goods soaring up to 30%.”

According to Chavern, the unanimous vote ensures there will be no antidumping or countervailing duties posed for Canada, China, Germany, Korea, The Netherlands, Taiwan, Turkey or the United Kingdom.

“Today’s result confirms what we’ve known all along — there was no merit to Cleveland-Cliffs’ claims,” he added. “The ITC not only voted today to protect thousands of American manufacturing jobs, but to preserve the integrity of our country’s trade remedy process.”

“America’s food, beverage, household and personal care manufacturers are committed to working with the administration to keep jobs in America, protect the competitiveness of American manufacturing and work toward solutions that address supply chain and business issues impacting the cost of everyday essential products,” Chavern concluded.

The Consumer Brands Association has been battling this tariff proposal for the last six months, including penning a letter of opposition to the ITC and DOC, which was signed by 28 likeminded stakeholders across the manufacturing, food retail and agriculture sectors, including the Pet Food Institute (PFI).

Following ITC’s decision, PFI’s President and CEO Dana Brooks announced the association’s support in the move on Feb. 7.

 “The decision is a victory for consumers and the pet food industry,” Brooks said in a statement. “This decision demonstrates the complete lack of merit of the claims of the petitioner, Cleveland-Cliffs, and means there will be no duties on tin mill steel products imported from Canada, China, Germany, and Korea. The fact is that Cleveland-Cliffs cannot meet the demand of American manufacturers and imposing these tariffs would be harmful economically for US manufacturers, workers and consumers.”

Stay up to date on the latest pet food processing industry headlines on our News page. 

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Registration opens for Feed Industry Institute

ARLINGTON, VA. — The American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) has opened registration for its Feed Industry Institute (FII), set for June 17 to 20 in Minneapolis. The biennial event brings together emerging professionals in the animal feed industry to learn more about the ingredients, processes and regulations used within the industry to manufacture and sell animal feed.

“The Feed Industry Institute is a great educational opportunity for people in the feed industry, especially those who may be new, to learn from experts,” said Paul Davis, director of quality, animal food safety and education, AFIA. “We hope that attendees gain a deeper understanding of the process and importance of producing high-quality feed.”

The agenda at this year’s event will provide attendees with a 101-style overview of the US feed industry, animal physiology and nutrition basics, the types of ingredients used and their purpose in animal food, the role of medications and additives, and formulation and various processing techniques, the AFIA said. It also will include sessions on building consumer trust, participating in international trade and engaging with the various regulatory agencies. The full agenda is available at

In addition to the educational sessions, FII includes several networking opportunities for attendees, including a reception on June 17, and an optional paid outing to a Minnesota Twins baseball game on June 19. These opportunities help attendees, particularly those who are early in their careers or new to the industry, expand their professional networks.

The AFIA encourages attendees to register before March 8, for the early-bird rate of $799 for AFIA members and $999 for non-members.

Learn more about the FII and register here.

Read more about pet food and treat industry events.

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AAFCO Workgroup comes to contentious conclusion on copper claims

CHAMPAIGN, ILL. — The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is seeking public commentary through March 1 regarding a proposed “controlled copper” claim for dog food. The proposed claim involves a maximum of 15 mg copper per kg DM and a maximum of 3.75 mg copper per 100 kcal of metabolizable energy for dog food formulas designed for one or more life stages.

The 11-person Workgroup was assembled to identify the need to reconsider copper guidelines in AAFCO’s Model Regulations for Pet Food and Specialty Pet Food. The original copper regulation described a “low copper” claim, which could imply to consumers that the food contained copper levels below the minimum requirements, according to the Workgroup. To avoid confusion, the group has proposed a revision to the claim to strike “low copper” and similar wordings in favor of “controlled copper.”  

In the end, the Workgroup voted 6-4 in favor of the proposed claim, and the final report has been passed on to AAFCO’s Pet Food Committee (PFC) to determine if the claim is appropriate.

“By a slim majority, the Workgroup recommends PFC establish the regulation for a ‘controlled copper’ claim on dog foods…” the report stated. “It is within AAFCO’s mission to provide clarity to consumers, promote consistency in the marketplace, and support animal health, all of which is accomplished with this regulation.”

Both the Pet Food Institute (PFI) and American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) submitted statements for the Workgroup discussion, with both expressing concern and opposition to the proposal.

“In the interest of pet health, consumer trust and regulatory integrity, PFI cannot support the creation of specific nutrient claims for a disease where there isn’t evidence-based science,” PFI stated. “We support the majority opinion of the AAFCO expert panel which stated that ‘no maximum amount of copper should be set for complete diets for dogs until objective scientific data is available to establish such a maximum.’”

AFIA added, “Creating an AAFCO-sanctioned marketing claim regarding copper content in dog food based on an arbitrary value (as confirmed by Dr. Bill Burkholder) of 15 mg Cu/kg dry matter to address consumers’ desires rather than animal wellbeing is ill-advised.”

Copper in dog food has recently come into the spotlight due to a discussion within the veterinary community regarding a purported link between copper levels and the development of copper-associated hepatopathy (CAH), a type of liver disease, in dogs. According to BSM Partners, as well as the four Workgroup members who voted against the proposal, the “controlled copper” claim is not supported by sufficient scientific evidence, and more research is needed.

“Nutritional guidelines pivotal to the health of pets should only evolve based on thorough scrutiny and unbiased expert reviews,” wrote Stephanie Clark, Ph.D., Sydney McCauley, Ph.D., and Bradley Quest, DVM, of BSM Partners. “As leaders in the industry, fostering an environment where decisions are informed by comprehensive, rigorous research and ensure the wellbeing of pets remains the priority.”

According to the final Workgroup report, members who voted in opposition argued the claim would be “false and misleading,” as there is currently no proof that the proposed 15 mg copper per kg DM would be beneficial to dogs predisposed to or diagnosed with CAH. Additionally, they are also concerned that the claim could lead to nutrient imbalances as manufacturers target the new range for copper in finished products.

“There are very strong opinions on both sides of this issue,” wrote Karen L. Donnelly, DVM, chair of the Copper Claim Workgroup and veterinary medical officer with the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM), in the final report. “All Workgroup members agree that more research about the effects of dietary copper on dogs’ health is needed, but in the meantime, PFC needs to decide if the proposed regulation is an appropriate and acceptable step towards addressing the issue.”

Read the full report here.

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