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In a recent meeting of the FPSA Pet Foods Council, the group started the discussion on what type of production line it should build for next year’s PROCESS EXPO (October 23-25, 2023 in Chicago). This is not the first line this Council has put together, having organized a short but successful kibble line at the 2019 show despite having only formed this Council that same year. Given the large crowds that this line generated in 2019, the Council agreed that it was time to bring another line to the show’s audience and raise the bar even further.

It was a fun discussion that started by identifying all of the different components that could go into a line. Grinders, mixers, extruders, freeze drying equipment, baking equipment, metal detectors and checkweighers, and of course packaging to name just a few. But what’s the product? That part of the discussion took a little longer, but I mean that in a very good way.

At the recent SuperZoo 2022, held in Las Vegas, NielsenIQ presented its latest pet industry data, reporting that in 2021, in-store (up 9.2%) and online pet care purchases (up 22.6%) outpaced other departments in year-over-year growth. In short, the pet food market continues to grow at a fast pace due in large part to the functional benefits manufacturers are now adding to their products. The Council discussed this at length and asked, what might we add to this line that consumers and manufacturers would find innovative, not just in stainless steel, but in the product and ingredients itself?

As someone with two very neurotic dogs, I suggested a CBD additive. Current products on the market have changed the dynamic in my household by significantly reducing their anxiety. As there seems to be new products on the shelves every day, I’m sure I’m not the only buying them. Members of the Council agreed that this could be an interesting addition.

The Council also discussed the possibility of this being a treat line, given the strong growth of this category of the industry. With US sales at the $10B mark, and a projected compound annual growth rate of 12% through 2025, you might say treats are on a gravy train (pun fully intended). Based on this discussion, in the coming months you can expect to see more details about this line we are building which I do expect to be a treat line, potentially with a CBD additive. Once we finalize this, then we’ll start identifying the equipment and reaching out to potential participants. Ever since the PROCESS EXPO Production Line program was launched in 2017, we have prided ourselves on bringing in a diverse group of OEM’s to show the customer how different brands can work together for a quality product as this is the way it tends to be in the plant. Any equipment manufacturers interested in being part of the 2023 line, should reach out to me to discuss it (hint, you must be an exhibitor to participate). In the meantime, keep your eyes open for more news about this line and the others (meat and bakery) that are in development for next year.

As the only show in the world that puts on live demonstrations of production lines with actual food products, what better way is there to show off your technology?

Andy Drennan, FPSA SVP