February 3, 2016

KIBBLE MOISTURE: FINDING THE BALANCE

By: Arjan Pitlo

Helping customers select the best possible pet food palatant and providing support for proper palatant application is an important and interesting part of my job at AFB International. Among the many parameters influencing palatability, optimal level of kibble moisture is very important for achieving the customer’s palatability goals.  

Getting Started

The multi-step process to obtain optimal kibble moisture is based on a holistic approach. Essential to this approach is creating a complete picture of the customer’s needs and their production capabilities. This starts with important questions on topics such as:

  • Production capabilities in relation to moisture content
  • Insights about analytical capabilities to measure moisture
  • How analytical results are utilized
  • Potential production constraints
  • Production volumes and runs


When we have answers to these questions, we can gather more information regarding the specific product in question. Then we can provide our expertise on what will achieve the best palatability based on the customer’s specific requests and requirements.

To achieve the best palatability in relation to moisture content, insights are needed about the environmental conditions which kibbles are exposed to, customer production sequences, customer palatability goals, coating capabilities and more.

Balancing Act

For the best kibble moisture solution, we provide customers guidance on how to balance moisture level in correlation with economic factors like product weight and dryer energy. AFB will also share awareness of potential microbiological spoilage related to moisture and water activity levels. Ideal kibble moisture rates vary between dogs and cats. Depending on the circumstances, we may recommend a proper moisture content. However, it really depends on the customer’s requirements.

For example, a cat kibble dried to optimum moisture content may attain the palatability performance goal based on pet intake ratio. However from an economical perspective, optimum moisture level is not necessarily in line with optimum kibble weight. A cost/benefit analysis also might reveal that an investment is warranted in analytic equipment to test moisture level during production—if it will reduce waste and save time.

Palatants and Performance

Once we have a hypothesis on the best approach, we also assist our customers with palatability testing. In this process, discerning pets “vote” to confirm whether one palatant at a specific application level performs better than another. Besides palatant performance, the effect of moisture optimization steps will become clear.

Palatability testing may be done in phases, starting with small-scale test runs to test hypotheses. Once the desired result is achieved, testing may be repeated during full-scale production to ensure the final product meets the same moisture and palatability targets as the successful test run.

In general, it is vital for us to understand our customer’s challenges so we can provide valuable solutions. The answers help us guide the customer on kibble formulation, including palatant choice and application level, to help meet their moisture and other performance-related needs.

Learn More

Do you have a kibble moisture question? Post your thoughts here or contact me at apitlo@afbinternational.com.

 

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