The pandemic led to record numbers of first-time pet owners, eager to serve the extended family members good-quality pet food - an area of expertise that Caldic Canada proudly owns. The Nutrition Group of Caldic Canada offers solutions for both human and animal nutrition. Animal nutrition has emerged as an area of particular interest – and significant growth – driven in large part by a very hands-on approach to customer service on the part of the nine-member team, which numbers four R&D specialists.
Antioxidants for protection
Over the past few years, we’ve grown our sales in animal nutrition significantly in North America by promoting our Caldic-branded product lines such as Dadex® antioxidants, Damin-Aide® vitamin and mineral enrichment blends, and Vegetol® liquid oils and blends,” says Isabelle Tremblay, Director, Nutrition and Pharmaceutical at Caldic Canada. “In order to support our customers’ growing need for the development of animal products with a longer shelf life, we’ve developed extensive capabilities within our Dadex® antioxidant solutions. We’ve helped customers to extend the shelf life of products while developing solutions that respond to new trends in animal products as well as in labeling preferences..
While the Animal Nutrition team serves both the feed and the pet food markets, the focus has been particularly on pet food, especially dried kibble. “Because kibble is a complete diet for pets, it needs a certain percentage of fat in the formula,” explains Liz Parker, Regional Sales Manager for the Nutrition Team in Ontario. “That percentage can be up to 20 percent, and kibble may need a shelf life of 12, 18, or even 24 months. The kibble is processed at a high temperature, which promotes oxidation and increases the risk that the fat or oil will go rancid and result in unpleasant odors and flavors. Packaged kibble will also be exposed to more oxygen every time the bag is opened. So if you don’t protect the product by adding antioxidants, you end up with palatability issues in the finished product.”
Complexity food matrix
However - despite appearances - not all pet food is the same, and understanding exactly what is required to most effectively extend the shelf life of these products is what sets Caldic apart from the competition. “It's our ability to work closely with customers and understand their needs and their processes,” says Isabelle. “When selecting an antioxidant, it's very important to understand the process that the customer uses. Various different processes are used to make pet food, so we work with our customers and go into their plants to find out exactly how they are handling production and the types of ingredients they are using. To prevent oxidation in a complex matrix such as pet food, it’s important to add the antioxidant earlier in the process to make sure that we protect early on and then add additional material at key steps in the process.”
Accelerated testing capabilities
Working at the production sites of customers and in Caldic’s own labs, the Nutrition Group subjects finished products to extensive testing in order to determine the ideal Dadex® product to maximize shelf life and meet customer demands. “We’re constantly improving our in-house capabilities,” says Liz. “For example, we’ve recently invested in an environmental chamber that provides accelerated shelf-life testing capabilities to speed up testing and development times.”
A culture focused on finding solutions
“It’s always been our culture to work closely with our customers,” says Liz. “In fact, a lot of our capabilities in the operational plant stem from our customers’ needs for additional support. Ours is a culture focused on finding solutions.” Liz, who has been with the company for 14 years, says that even now, every day is different. “Working in sales, but coming from a technical background, I really enjoy that aspect of the job. It’s not straight selling of ingredients; it’s all about coming up with solutions that make our customers’ products better.”