TUCKER, Ga. – Poultry by-products are key ingredients in the pet food industry. “Chicken meal and poultry fat are important ingredients in pet food," said Jim Eastin, supplier quality assurance scientist for Nutro Company. Eastin said this and more while addressing professionals in the poultry rendering industry gathered at the recently held 2011 Poultry Protein and Fat Seminar in Nashville, Tenn.

The annual conference is sponsored by the US Poultry & Egg Association (USPOULTRY) and the Poultry Protein and Fat Council.

During his presentation, titled The Importance of Rendered Ingredients in Pet Foods, Eastin provided an overview of the dry pet food process and examined the benefits of chicken meal and poultry fat in pet diets. He also explained that chicken fat is more than just an energy source.

“It also provides healthy skin and coats, enhances the aroma of the pet food, provides a nice sheen and seals and shields dry kibble to increase shelf life," he added. Eastin called poultry byproducts value-added ingredients and described rendering as environmentally responsible by converting byproducts into ingredients Nutro uses every day in its products.

Production statistics for animal protein meal in the US is about 4 million metric tons, comprised of 56 percent meat and bone meal, 15 percent feather meal, and 25 percent poultry byproduct meal said Kent Swisher, vice president of international programs for the National Renderers Association, in his presentation titled Emerging Markets: Exports and Domestic. Information he presented from an Informa Economics report showed the two biggest US markets for rendered products are poultry and pets, with pets being the larger growth market.

Swisher also provided information on countries importing animal protein meal as well as the growth for each market. Top markets include Indonesia, Thailand (500 percent growth in last five years), China (177 percent growth), and Bangladesh (155 percent growth). He described some emerging opportunities/markets, such as feeding with fish meal and the use of animal fat in biofuels.