Fibers in pet foods are enjoying growing popularity. However, fiber is not just fiber. Knowing all about the different sorts of fibers and their opportunities achieved by a unique processing is a science in itself. The scientists of the JRS’ R&D department and Application Centers know all about the various functionalities of fibers and their proper use - ready to solve technical challenges during pet food production and provide numerous health benefits for all the beloved pets.
Fibers as natural and renewable materials of plant origin are ecological products at its best. Because of their multifunctional properties and compatibility with nearly all other substances, fibers create solutions for many products of daily life.
The selection of the right raw material and the mechanical manufacturing process is of paramount importance, as this allows the particle size and structure to be tailored and the properties of the fibers depend to a large extent on these parameters.
Through a finely tuned interaction of suitable milling technology and fractionation, optimized products can be manufactured.
An impact mill acts on a fibers material with high shear forces. This results in a strong fibrillation of the material, resulting predominantly in long, thin fibers (picture 1). These in turn are characterized by a high binding capacity for liquids, be it water, oil or others.
In contrast, a cutting mill mainly shortens the fiber length, but is not able to split fiber bundles into individual fibers very well. Therefore, this grinding system mainly produces shorter particles with a less pronounced fiber structure (Picture 2). These particles are less effective, but have a better flow ability and a better dosing and mixing ability.
Other so-called “rotor-stator systems”, which allow a very small grinding gap, are predestined for the production of fine powders. Although these powders do not have high functionality, they can be used in higher concentrations and can be easily and homogeneously incorporated into a wide variety of formulations. They also have good sensory properties.
Having the possibility to understand how a structure or matrix of a fiber after a dedicated processing upgrade looks like is an innovative competitive advantage. Structural differences of various fibers can help to indicate certain functional properties, which are sometimes known in the industry but more often not known or not deep enough explored. This is the moment where the scientific transparency meets technical application, researching the functional benefit of a new potential product in a real application like in main meal or snacks. For that, JRS has set up a pilot facility in 2017 where exactly this kind of internal research is happen. Only after a sufficient amount of internal trials and critical analysis, the products are manufactured in larger scale to run first trials with dedicated customers. By doing that, it is possible to develop real innovative product concepts, which are new to the market before they become standard across the pet food world.
Globally, there are thousands of innovation pipelines and marketing concepts creating a high demand of new innovative solutions. Having the right knowledge and the right products in place is key to be a constant part of new product developments and strategic partnerships. However, even in daily production there are challenges where a fiber can help to have a more efficient production. Some of them have the capability to generate a network, helping to keep the shape of a product intact or keeping a gravy clear during sterilization. Others can avoid syneresis in raw meat food or alternatively in all meat sausages, ensuring that excessive water can be hold over shelf life. There are many more examples of what a fiber can deliver beyond the nutritional benefit for the pets. Fibers designed by nature in combination with research & development plus technical application knowledge are the future road for many new ideas around the globe beyond nutrition.