Bond Pet Foods and Hill’s Pet Nutrition Reach Scaling Milestone for Precision-Fermented Proteins
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US companies Bond Pet Foods and Hill’s Pet Nutrition have announced a milestone development in their partnership, trading two tonnes of precision-fermented proteins to create animal-free products for our furry friends.
Colorado-based Bond Pet Foods has made its first delivery to Kansas-based industry giant Hill’s Pet Nutrition, shipping two tonnes of its animal-free protein made from precision fermentation. The latter will formulate test products with this protein for market evaluation and regulatory review.
It represents a landmark moment for commercialising Bond’s fermentation tech for pet food applications. “Producing tons of product at the 45,000-litre scale is a major milestone in the Bond-Hill’s collaboration,” said Bond founder and CEO Rich Kelleman. “Additionally, Hill’s commitment to expand on our work together demonstrates the opportunity we collectively see in Bond’s ingredients for their and the pet industry’s food future.”
The need for alternative pet food
The companies have also announced a second joint development agreement, which will see them develop another animal protein for potential use in Hill’s products. This extends the link-up between the two brands, which began in late 2021 with the aim to create more sustainable proteins to fulfil the dietary needs of dogs and cats.
In the US, producing dry cat and dog food equates to between 25-30% of all emissions related to animal consumption by Americans. And globally, these two categories emit around 64 million tons of carbon per year – that’s the equivalent of more than 13 million cars. Research has also found that dogs and cats consume about 9% of all land animals slaughtered for food (numbering seven billion annually).
In fact, if all the world’s canines and felines were put on a nutritionally complete vegan diet, it could help feed nearly 520 million people, conserve land the size of multiple countries, and also save billions of animals from slaughter.
“Increasing concerns about environmental sustainability, farmed animal welfare and competition for traditional protein sources are driving considerable development of alternative pet foods,” suggested one study last year, which found that vegan diets for cats may be healthier than meat-based ones. It followed research published in 2022 suggesting that vegan diets are the healthiest and least hazardous choice for dogs.
This is why a host of companies are working on alternative proteins for pets, including Wild Earth, Noochies, Omni and The Pack. These producers will be hoping to disrupt the $9.2B vegan cat food and $14.1B plant-based dog food markets, both of which are expected to nearly double over the next decade.
Meanwhile, startups like BioCraft Pet Nutrition, Marina Cat and Bene Meat are making cultivated meat for pets. But the only other company developing precision-fermented ingredients for pet food is Belgium’s Paleo, which makes an animal-free, yeast-based myoglobin for these applications.
Preparing for market evaluation and regulatory review
Founded in 2017, Bond has raised $20M in total funding, including a 17.5M Series A round in 2022, backed by the likes of Agronomics, ADM Ventures, Lever VC, Genoa VC, Cavallo Ventures, and Plug and Play Ventures, among others. And Hill’s, a subsidiary of Colgate-Palmolive, recorded $1.11B in net sales in Q4 2023, up by 5% year-on-year, with $231M in profit.
According to the companies, 74 million dogs and 56 million cats in American households currently consume large amounts of animal-based protein. The former’s precision fermentation platform – similar to craft brewing – is looking to change that, with an ability to efficiently reproduce high-quality meats like chicken, turkey and beef for pet food applications.
Bond harvests these proteins to better meet the nutritional requirements of companion animals, and supplies the ingredients to manufacturers for pet food, treat and supplement applications. The scale of its delivery to Hill’s will allow the latter to develop a variety of products at its Pet Nutrition Center in Topeka, Kansas. Once this protein is evaluated, the data will be used for the ingredient’s eventual review by the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, and to prepare prototypes for market evaluation.
“Hill’s is known for its leadership in precise, complete and balanced, science-based nutrition,” said Dave Baloga, Hill’s executive VP of science and technology. “We are excited to continue our relationship with Bond and support their truly novel approach to produce animal proteins in a more sustainable way that meets our high-quality standards.”