Research & Development

As soon as you become a partner, you will gain access to some of the world’s finest Research and Development facilities. The R&D Department will work with you to create bespoke innovative solutions.

Research & Development is part of the DNA at GA Pet Food Partners. As a company, we strive to push the boundaries in both terms of nutrition and manufacturing capabilities.

Our R&D team works in collaboration with expert teams in Nutrition, Production, Quality, and other key departments to deliver ground-breaking and innovative solutions.

Innovation & New Product Development (NPD)

Protein Hydrolysis/HDP

Since the introduction of Freshtrusion™, GA has led the way in manufacturing diets containing increasing amounts of freshly prepared meat and fish protein sources.

Proud to be at the forefront of advances in pet food manufacturing, we never rest here at GA, and we are constantly striving for ways to offer our Partners (and pets) even better products. We are now extremely excited to offer our latest innovation, which we are calling ‘HDP’ – Highly Digestible Protein.

By using controlled enzymatic hydrolysis (conditions determined in collaboration with experts at Nofima, a leading independent institute for applied food research), we can digest protein into small peptides (this is the same process as occurs naturally in the digestive tract). This increases the digestibility & bioavailability of the protein improves palatability and produces protein with low allergenic potential.

For more information on HDP, please contact your dedicated Account Manager.

Download GA’s HDP (Highly Digestible Protein) report

You can download for free GA’s report on the development of protein hydrolysis approach to increase the nutritional benefits of freshly prepared meat and fish, written by Dr Adrian Hewson-Hughes. This report details our research and development into our efforts to increase the nutritional value of the protein within our fresh meat and fish ingredients by converting the protein into small peptides which are more easily absorbed by the pets eating it. We are calling this process HDP (Highly Digestible Protein).

Download our HDP Report

R-A-G Prediction Tool

As we continue to innovate and develop sophisticated analytical models, we are pleased to share our latest tool – RAG Assessment. Built using data collected from the extrusion of thousands of different recipes over many years, this particular tool has been created to aid with the accurate assessment of potential recipes at the concept stage.

RAG produces a traffic light ‘score’ (Red-Amber-Green) for different factors in a potential recipe that gives an initial prediction of the likelihood of success or potential issues. This helps Partners to understand the risks, costs and time-frames for development of specific new products and allow the experts at GA to offer advice on the best way forward to help deliver successful launches of highly innovative recipes.

For more information on R-A-G or density prediction, please contact your dedicated Account Manager.

Product Optimisation

Bespoke Cooking Conditions

Hot and fast or low and slow? At GA, we favour the second approach for cooking our fresh meat and fish raw materials. But even within the scope of low temperature and slow cooking, our research has shown we can dramatically affect the palatability of kibbles depending on the duration of cooking and the temperature profile through the process.

As we look to deliver on our promise to ‘make and deliver the world’s finest pet food’, we continue to research and refine the times and temperatures for different meat and fish raw materials to provide the finest and most palatable kibbles for pets to enjoy.

Top Cat

When it comes to food, cats are notoriously difficult to please!

With this in mind, we have spent several years working with different organisations and our own expert nutritionists to formulate recipes using a variety of ingredients and combinations of coatings on the kibbles. We have conducted extensive palatability trials to discover what makes fussy cats happy!

We are now pleased to announce that we have developed three fantastic new products (1 adult and 2 sterilised) that we know cats will love. These are now available via our MyBrand portfolio.

In addition to the great taste, all products are formulated to support urinary tract health and have been shown to maintain urine pH within an optimal range to minimise the risk of urinary crystals or stones forming.

All the R&D conducted benefits every one of our partners as our expertise is your success, and any exciting developments are offered to all of our valued partners.

For more information on the Connoisseur Cat range, please contact your dedicated Account Manager.

Production Efficiency

Reduced Drying Time

As we seek to create efficiencies that can be passed on to partner brands, we are currently investigating the functional properties of certain ingredients that could be added to help to reduce drying time for kibbles.

Similar trials are ongoing to look at adding ingredients that may enable traditionally ‘fragile’ kibbles (that have to be extruded slowly) to be produced at higher throughput rates.

These manufacturing efficiencies all help to reduce energy use and costs – good for reducing our carbon footprint, benefiting the environment and reducing manufacturing costs for Partners.

Manufacturing Excellence

Good, Better, Best.

In partnership with colleagues from Nutrition, Production, Packing, Engineering and Quality, we continuously review the manufacturing process and identify improvements that can be made.

This can be anything from engineering improvements on the line to production being aided by the functionality of specific ingredients. The production of the world’s finest pet food requires constant monitoring, and improvements are part of the culture at GA, it’s in our DNA.

Nutrition

Our Nutrition team have expertly formulated more than 800 original recipes for our MyLabel, MyBrand and MyBespoke partners. Using their knowledge of animal biology and nutrition, our Nutrition team offer expert support and advice to our partners as well as our own departments throughout the partner journey. They ensure partners recipes are always complying to the latest legislation. Whilst working with our R&D Department, they help to create new recipes using innovative ideas and choose the raw materials to be included in the trials. Then working with our Lab Technicians, they analyse the results of the trial in detail, before the new recipe is sent to be produced.

Charlotte Shepherd, our Senior Nutritionist, has put together some informative articles below on why we formulate not just for life stages and species, but for lifestyles too.

Puppy Recipes

Puppies require an appropriately high level of protein to support growth and development through this crucial phase in life. This is usually higher than an adult’s requirement, as this is the fastest development phase within a dog’s lifetime. During this phase, they also require an appropriate and controlled Calcium and Phosphorus level to ensure correct skeletal development, which is especially important for large breed puppies.

Adult Dog Recipes

Our Adult Dog recipes are formulated to be complete and balanced to provide all the nutrients that a dog needs to live a healthy and happy life. They are formulated using various combinations of highly digestible proteins, carbohydrates and functional ingredients. There are plenty of delicious recipes to choose from to please dogs and their owners alike.

Small Breed Dog Recipes

Small breeds have a faster metabolic rate compare to large breeds meaning that they have much higher energy requirements per kilogram of body weight. Our Small Breed recipes are formulated to have a higher calorie content that is nutrient-dense which is packed into a smaller kibble size specifically designed to suit smaller mouths.

Large Breed Dog Recipes

Our large breed recipes are nutritionally complete and balanced and come in a larger kibble size to promote chewing and prevent gorging or fast consumption of food, which could lead to bloating and digestive upset. The size and weight of large breed dogs can put more strain on their joints, so we’ve added a combination of glucosamine, chondroitin & methylsulfonylmethane to support cartilage metabolism and help maintain healthy joints.

Light* Recipes

Our light recipes have added L-carnitine – derived from the amino acid lysine – which promotes fat oxidation that helps to maintain a healthy weight and lean muscle mass.
Our light recipes are 15% lower in fat compared to standard adult products in order to aid weight reduction. As it is the calories which are reduced, this does not mean that a pet has to eat less, they can still consume a normal amount of food.

* FEDIAF guidelines state that if you declare a Recipe as Light, Metabolisable Energy or kcal must be declared on your product packaging.

Senior Dog Recipes

Senior recipes are designed to be suitable for those dogs over 7 years old. A senior diet is designed to help support the joints, have higher fibre content to help ‘keep things moving’ and have reduced energy content in order to help prevent weight gain in those golden years. A careful blend of Glucosamine, Chondroitin and MSM helps support cartilage for healthy joints. These recipes include L-Carnitine, an essential amino acid which can help maintain a healthy weight and lean muscle mass.

Kitten Recipes

Kittens grow quickly; within 6 months they will have reached approximately 75% of their adult body weight and so getting their diet right is vital to help them grow from a kitten into a healthy cat. Our complete kitten recipes are formulated to provide young cats with the balanced nutrition and increased energy content that they require during growth. This includes a higher level of protein, rich in essential amino acids to support healthy muscle growth and added vitamin E to help support the immune system. The smaller kibble size of a kitten recipe also helps to make mealtimes easily manageable.

Adult Cat Recipes

Unlike dogs, cats cannot synthesize all amino acids within their body, and so it is essential that these are provided in the diet to maintain their health. Our adult cat recipes are excellent sources of quality protein, rich in essential amino acids including taurine and vitamin A to help support the heart & vision, along with omega 3 which also promotes good coat & skin condition. This complete diet provides the confidence that the cat has everything they require to lead a happy and healthy life.

Senior Cat Recipes

As felines become older (7+ years), their nutritional requirements can start to change as they may become less active, spend more time indoors or develop a slower metabolism. Our complete senior recipes are formulated to provide high-quality protein, fewer calories and added l-carnitine to help enable your cat to maintain their optimum weight and healthy lean muscles as they mature. It’s also enriched with our joint care pack to help support ageing joints and maintain good mobility. This means that senior cats can continue to enjoy mealtimes to the full without compromising on taste.

Sterilised/Neutered Cat Recipes

Sterilisation/neutering is recommended for pet cats; however, it is known to be a risk factor for obesity, as it may lead to an increased appetite and reduced activity level. Our recipes have been specifically formulated to help balance against these changes.

Indoor Cat Recipes

Increased city living has led to more cats living indoors, but this environment can limit their amount of exercise. To counteract against the risk of unwanted weight gain, our recipes have been formulated with a lower energy content to help indoor cats maintain a normal weight.

Fussy Cat Recipes

It’s well known that cats can be rather particular about what’s in their food bowl. With this in mind, our recipes have been carefully formulated to ensure that it is especially palatable to cats, so that meal times continue to be a source of enjoyment for even the fussiest felines.

Active Cat Recipes

Extremely playful cats may require a recipe that can complement their active lifestyle. Our recipes have been formulated with a high energy content which can help to meet the increased energy demands of active cats. It is also rich in high-quality protein and omega-3 fatty acids to help maintain strong muscles and keep active joints healthy.

Colleague Spotlight: R&D

Alex Tebay

Product Innovation and Process Development Manager

Alex graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University in 2004 with a BSc (Hons) in Food Science & Technology. He then went on to gain 11 years of experience in roles in the Human Food Industry covering both Quality and New Product Development, with a variety of different products from cereals, to dairy as well as fruit.

Before Joining GA in 2017, Alex was the Head of NPD for a manufacturer of sugar-based jams and fillings and responsible for the launch of over 100 products into the bakery sector supplying all of the major supermarkets. He had overall responsibility for the formulation, costing and drawing up of specifications for all of these products, managing the process through from ‘Concept to Launch’.

Since Joining GA in 2017, Alex has been at the forefront of the many technical innovations that we have introduced to the dry pet food sector, be it equipment, manufacturing techniques, or new raw materials. Alex also oversees the processing side of NPD within the company and gets to play a large part in assisting the partner’s journey by introducing new products that change the pet food sector and keep it moving forward.

Dr Adrian Hewson-Hughes

Nutrition, Food Safety and Innovation Advisor

Adrian graduated from the University of Sunderland with a BSc (Hons) in pharmacology and went on to work in a Multiple Sclerosis laboratory at the Institute of Neurology, University College London where he obtained a PhD. After several more years as a ‘postdoc’ in academia at the Universities of Cambridge and Nottingham, he joined Mars Petcare and spent 14 years working in R&D at the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition. Adrian led various research projects on palatability, feeding behaviour, nutrition and metabolism in both cats and dogs resulting in scientific publications, presentations and product innovations.

In 2016, Adrian moved to France to head the European Nutrition R&D team at Nestlé Purina Petcare. He was responsible for ensuring nutritional and regulatory compliance, nutritional safety and claims substantiation across the cat and dog product portfolio from mainstream to veterinary diets. Additionally, he carried out research to support innovation and new product development across all formats (wet, dry and treats).

In October 2018, Adrian joined GA, excited by the opportunity to support the continued innovation and investment that GA commits to, bringing the highest quality products to our Partners and our pets.