Bond Pet Foods, a food tech company that has been working on animal-free pet food since 2017, has successfully created the first prototype of its future consumer-facing chicken without the chicken, which Bond says will revolutionise the pet food space. We spoke to Rich Kelleman, founder and CEO, to find out more.
Firstly please introduce your brand to any readers who may not know you.
I’m a former advertising executive, and Bond was born after I worked on the Burger King account. The experience opened my eyes to the challenges attached to conventional agriculture, including meat production, turning me into a vegan. Years later, when my wife and I got our first dog together, we wrestled with the tension of feeding our dog (and cats) meat, and asked — could there be a better way?
Tell us about your new animal-free chicken protein prototype? How is it made?
Using a proprietary production process that is more humane and sustainable compared with conventional agriculture, Bond is able to take a harmless, one-time blood sample — in this case, from a heritage hen named Inga who is alive and well at a farm in Lindsborg, Kansas — to determine the genetic code for the best types of chicken proteins to nourish dogs and cats.
The genetic code is then coupled with a strain of food-grade yeast. When this yeast is grown in a fermentation tank, it churns out meat proteins that are identical to those typically produced on farm and field. It’s a similar fermentation process that’s been used for half a century to make enzymes for cheese, but Bond is reassembling the process to harvest high-quality animal proteins.
When do you expect to launch the product?
Our first chicken-based products will debut in 2023.
Do you foresee other applications for your fermentation technology?
We’ll be making other cultured meat proteins in the years ahead for pet nutrition, like turkey, pork, and beef. Other applications including the human food space are also being explored.
What differentiates you from other brands producing animal-free pet food?
We’re honored to be part of a growing number of companies that are looking to provide alternatives when it comes to the food we feed our pets. To start, we’re all working with similar, high-quality plant-based and microbial proteins that are readily available.
The biggest difference comes in our future tech — the platforms that each company is working with to produce meat proteins for pet food. We’re currently the only company developing meat proteins through microbial fermentation in the pet food space.
Are you working on developing any other products?
While our cultured proteins are in development, we launched our first product last May — a protein-packed dog treat bar made with pure nutritional yeast. While not animal-derived, the yeast protein in the recipe is made through a similar fermentation technique, allowing us to begin educating the public about the beauty of proteins and products made through microbial fermentation.
What is your mission as a company, and how do you hope to achieve it?
Our mission at Bond Pet Foods is to be an ally for all animals through a commitment to finding a better way to make complete, nutritious food for our pets.
Bond is a Boulder, Colorado-based pet food company using biotechnology to create food that’s nutritionally comparable to conventional meat but without all the bad stuff; so people, pets, farm animals, and the planet all win. Using some of the same processes that are employed in craft brewing, Bond produces high-quality cultured fungal and animal proteins through fermentation, harvests them to better meet the nutritional requirements of companion animals, and uses the ingredients as the foundation of its complete recipes.
What are your plans for the rest of 2020?
We recently closed additional capital. With those resources, we will be accelerating the development of our proprietary proteins, as well as expanding our reach for our first-gen dog treat bars.