Pet food manufacturers are always searching for ingredients that are readily available and can provide a high content of quality protein to include in their formulations. Lamb Meal, which initially became a popular ingredient in the US pet food market in the 80’s and 90’s has become a staple ingredient for specialty formulations as well as for mainstream products, due to its nutritional benefits.
Lamb Meal is defined in AAFCO under 9.4 meat meal. It is a subcategory of the meat meal definition, like Beef Meal and Pork Meal. Much of the Lamb Meal used in the pet food industry is sourced from Australia and New Zealand and is a by-product of the Lamb Meat industry.
There are two variations of Lamb Meal: regular ash and low ash. Low ash is hard to source due to the way Lamb Meal is produced. As the meat industry continues to get more and more efficient with processing Lamb Meat, the availability of this will continue to decrease. Bin space to segregate the different ash levels does not exist at most lamb processing facilities, also impacting its limited availability.
Initially, Lamb Meal was the poster ingredient for Limited Ingredient Diets (LID) and was commonly paired with rice, making it a novel protein and an easily digestible carbohydrate source. These limited ingredient diets are commonly used by pet parents for animals with food allergies or sensitive digestion. Today, there are many protein sources that can be used in LID diets, but Lamb and Lamb Meal remain in the mix.
Lamb Meal is also in more mainstream products, like red meat formulas where it complements other similar meat meal proteins commonly used in pet food. This makes for more unique product naming such as red meat, surf and turf, and the list goes on.
Market conditions can vary on a yearly basis depending on production, lamb population numbers and demand. Currently, regular ash Lamb Meal is readily available with varying market prices, which depend on ash content, plant locations, and a wide range of other variables.
Quality has also continued to improve over time with continued focus on better plant processes, antioxidant systems, and the pet food industry demanding continuous improvement. Lamb Meal is an excellent protein source, that is widely available to the pet food market, making it an ingredient that is a stable part of pet food formulations in the past, present, and future.
Written by Kent Cooper and Lisa Schole of Evolve Consulting Group
Seatarra Ingredient Alliance has long-standing relationships and works directly with leading lamb producers in Australia and New Zealand. This means that when pet food manufacturers require a specific brand or quality standard that they need to adhere to, Seatarra most likely has a connection that can help them. Contact us to find out more.