Cultivated, Cell-Cultured & Biotechnology

MicroHarvest & VEGDOG Unveil Dog Treat with “First-of-its-Kind” Microbial Protein

Two German companies, the biotech startup MicroHarvest and plant-based pet food producer VEGDOG, have partnered to introduce a dog treat crafted from a sustainable ingredient: microbial proteins from biomass fermentation. 

While other pet food products have utilized microbes like yeasts and mycelium, MicroHarvest’s first-of-its-kind protein is derived from bacteria that have been consumed by humans for centuries in foods such as kimchi, kefir, and sauerkraut, according to the announcement. 

“Our goal at VEGDOG is to show dog owners that they do not have to rely on meat-based products to feed their pets”

Combining the microbial protein with potato and apple pomace, the innovation — VEGDOG Pure Bites — is said to be hypoallergenic, suitable for dogs with protein intolerances and allergies, and recommended for use in veterinary practice.

Tessa Zaune-Figlar, founder and CEO of VEGDOG, comments, “Our goal at VEGDOG is to show dog owners that they do not have to rely on meat-based products to feed their pets. With this modern approach and our high-quality, healthy, and tasty products, we have been able to pioneer a new market.”

The new product will be presented at the 2024 Pet Food Forum Europe in Nuremberg, Germany, during Interzoo Europe in May.

Tessa Zaune Figlar with a white dog
VEGDOG’s CEO Tessa Zaune-Figlar – Image provided

Dogs and owners love it

This new bacteria-derived protein is said to be digestible, palatable, and highly nutritious, allowing VEGDOG to expand its V-Label award-winner portfolio

Dr. Carla Steffen, head of R&D at VEGDOG, explains: “At VEGDOG, we are constantly searching for innovative protein sources that benefit our dogs as well as our planet. It is of high importance to us to formulate our products based on scientific evidence. As the microbial protein of MicroHarvest is proven to be highly digestible, palatable and sustainable, it ticks all of these boxes.”

In addition, a palatability study by MicroHarvest found that dogs were 10% more likely to accept microbial protein treats than those made with poultry.  “Our ingredients were enthusiastically accepted by 85% of dogs trialed, while treats containing solely poultry meal had a 75% acceptance rate,” comments Ally Motta, Animal Nutritionist and Application Specialist at MicroHarvest.  

Meanwhile, another study conducted by the biotech in partnership with Wageningen University’s Master’s program found that 78.4% of British and German dog owners would consider buying pet food products made with sustainable microbial proteins.

MicroHarvest and plant-based pet food producer VEGDOG, have partnered to introduce a dog treat crafted from a sustainable ingredient: microbial proteins from biomass fermentation. 
Image provided

Scalable and more sustainable

According to MicroHarvest, its microbial ingredient footprint amounts to 1.4 kg CO2 equivalent per kilogram of product, giving it a sustainability advantage comparable to insect proteins and far exceeding that of plant-derived proteins: an estimated two to three times less CO2.

Moreover, the biomass is scalable and can be produced in just 24 hours while delivering over 60% protein. Ground into a powder, it offers multiple applications beyond pet food, including human foods and animal feed. This fermented protein can help address the global demand for proteins forecasted to grow 50% by 2050, says the German biotech.

Katelijne Bekers, co-founder of MicroHarvest, shares: “Sustainability is becoming increasingly important for pet food shoppers. With increasing pressure on the supply chain of animal-derived protein ingredients, our solution is a great way to differentiate the protein source choice for pet food manufacturers, being both highly reliable and scalable.”




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