Bond Pet Foods: “Making Pet Food From Real Animal Protein, Without the Animal”

Rich Kelleman – CEO Bond Pet Foods
© Bond Pet Foods

Bond Pets Food is creating slaughter-free meat proteins for cats and dogs, based on the belief that it isn’t necessary to harm one animal to feed another. With the contribution of biotechnology experts and board-certified veterinary nutritionists Bond will produce clean, antibiotic-free animal protein through fermentation, and mix with natural ingredients to create superior and sustainable food for pets.

Pet food is an often unacknowledged contribution of greenhouse gases and sustainability issues. The pet food industry is slowly beginning to take these issues on board – Rich Kelleman launched Bond Pet Foods in order to address such problems, and kindly spoke with vegconomist about his area of expertise.

Please introduce your products.
At Bond we’re reinventing pet nutrition, making dog and cat foods sourced from real animal protein, without the animal. Using some of the same principles and processes that are employed in craft brewing manufacture, we grow high-quality proteins through fermentation, harvest them to better meet the nutrition requirements of companion animals, and use the ingredients as the foundation of our complete recipes.

Our first products (dog and cat treats) will be available in 2019.

How did Bond Pet Foods get started? What was the motivation behind launching such a company?
I’m an advertising professional by trade, having worked at various agencies over the past twenty years on everything from diapers to motorcycles.

Ironically, my time on a fast food account led me to ask a different set of questions about the food I was eating, how it was sourced and made –  and took me down the path of a vegan lifestyle. Fast forward a few years later, my wife and I got our first puppy together and we really struggled to find pet foods that delivered on our new food sensibility. It was hard to find options that were truly an open book in how they were sourced and made, and there was also the nagging reality that regardless of our choice one animal needed to be harmed to feed another.

Bond Logo
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This is because dogs and cats thrive on meat-based diets; it’s difficult for dogs to get the complete nutrition they need solely from plant-based sources, and for cats it’s a relative non-starter.

While wrestling with this reality, I was introduced to folks in the clean meat space.

With those introductions and a deep dive into the various technologies and approaches, I felt there was a great opportunity to apply its science to pet food – perhaps even more so given the relatively lower technical bar (form, taste and texture) when compared with human food applications.

And that’s when Bond was born.

Why is it so imperative for the pet food industry to start looking towards sustainability as a priority?
It’s estimated that the 163 million dogs and cats in the U.S. consume up to 30% of all meat products produced in the country (PLOS One Journal, 8/2/17).

The growing trend of high meat inclusion in pet food recipes amplifies this consumption, bringing with it a host of issues around farm animal welfare, antibiotic use/resistance, processing safety and sustainability.

What kind of difference could products such as this make to the problem at hand?
We will make high-animal protein products that address these issues in a way that conventional agriculture and production systems cannot. Using a fraction of the resources, eliminating the need for slaughter and improving safety through closed-loop production.

Who are your target consumer base, and how do you propose to spread the message further afield, increasing awareness of the issues which you’re addressing, and the importance of sustainable dog food?
Initially, not surprisingly, our core audience will consist of premium pet food purchasers who are younger, urban and more progressive in their own food choices (those who seek out natural, organic, sustainable, transparent, high-welfare options). Beyond this niche, we will, in part, leverage our network’s reach in the veterinary and independent channels to educate and establish the support of key pet food influencers and gatekeepers.

When and where will your product be available on the market?
We will launch our first line of cat and dog treat products in 2019, first available in the U.S. through our website and select independent retailers.

Are you currently seeking partners or investors, and if so, of which type or in what areas?
Our seed round is currently open; we’re seeking mission-aligned investors as well as funds with expertise in biotechnology, ag-tech, pet food and/or consumer packaged goods.

Will Bond Pet Food be an affordable product?
Bond’s first products will be positioned against and competitive with super-premium pet food and treat brands. As with most new technologies, our (protein) production process will initially be more expensive versus conventional meat production, but with scale and process optimization less expensive pound-for-pound.

How do you envision the future of pet food and your place within it?
An industry that, like people food, is moving towards a healthier, more humane, sustainable reality. We will be at the forefront of this pursuit in the pet category.

What will be your process for ensuring your product is fully safe for animals to eat?
All of Bond’s proteins will be fully evaluated by the FDA, and products thoroughly tested for safety and performance through our partner veterinary clinics and diagnostic laboratories.

Anything else particular of note or of interest which you would like to add / for our readers to know?
We’re based in Boulder, Colorado, and have assembled a world-class, multidisciplinary team to ensure we’re successful in our pursuit of bringing clean pet food products to market.