Moses agrees. “Ugly food is part of the bigger movement of upcycling.” He says that if you look at the EPA’s definition for upcycling, it is about getting more value out of food that is fit for human or animal consumption that might otherwise go to waste. “So, for upcycling meat byproducts, it’s less about byproducts that are ‘ugly,’ or don’t meet standards for appearance; it’s more about using meat cuts that may not be popular to consume by humans, such as skin, livers and kidneys. Though it might seem strange based on our food preferences, these components are highly nutritious and have desirable sensory properties for pets. It’s a fantastic way to realize value from less popular types of meat,” he says.
Manufacturing, equipment, processing
With regard to manufacturing meat byproducts, Moses says to treat them in the same way that you would treat your primary products. After all, they will ultimately go into a food product that needs to be nutritious and safe for pets. “This may mean considering how the product is processed, packaged, stored and transported in order to prevent foreign material or microbial growth,” he says. It may also require adding new quality control (QC) tests, account or brand managers that can advocate for the quality and supply of those ingredients.
Moses adds that for those using the byproducts, it is important to develop a good relationship with suppliers to ensure a consistent, quality product. “Make sure they understand your standards, and you can work with their manufacturing setup. Also, make sure you understand how the byproducts originate and the reliability of that stream,” he says.
Manufacturers should constantly look for ways to optimize their production and produce as much high value product as possible. Moses says, “If the byproduct is critical to your brand, it might be worthwhile to consider long term contracts, or higher prices, to ensure consistent supply.”