ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA, US — The American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) honored two pet food industry professionals with the 2021 Friend of Pet Food Award during the AFIA Pet Food Conference.

The Friend of Pet Food Award recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to support the growth of the pet food industry.

Scott Baker, marketing manager at SEM Minerals, LP, virtually presented the awards on Jan. 26 to Galen Rokey, of Wenger Manufacturing, Inc., and Michael Panasevich, of Summit Ridge Farms.

Galen Rokey of Wenger Manufacturing, Inc. Photo courtesy of AFIA.

“Rokey and Panasevich are both truly friends of pet food and we are thrilled to recognize them today,” said Louise Calderwood, director of regulatory affairs at the AFIA, following the announcement of the awards. “Rokey’s creative force has helped foster pet food’s transformation into an industry with high nutrition, quality and sanitary expectations. The global pet food market would simply not contain the current value and scope of choices without Rokey’s dedicated, humble work. His career has been full of pet food advancements for which we are all grateful.”

Rokey is the director of process technology in the companion animal division at Wenger Manufacturing. Rokey recently introduced a thermal screw extrusion system that allows pet food companies to cook formulas containing fresh meat levels more than twice the amount previously possible.

“Combining a vast knowledge of nutritional requirements, with an expert understanding of ingredients and a proficiency in cooking and forming via the extrusion process, Rokey has advanced pet food concepts in the research laboratory, then educated the industry on the lecture circuit, leading to the industry’s feed-to-food evolution,” Baker said.

Michael Panasevich of Summit Ridge Farms. Photo courtesy of AFIA.

Panasevich is the president and founder of Summit Ridge Farms, an independent research facility completely dedicated to supporting the pet food industry. Summit Ridge Farms focuses on pet food testing, providing the industry with reliable research on all types of testing protocols for dogs and cats. Panasevich also participates in industry meetings involving pet food, including the Association of American Feed Control Officials feeding trials subcommittee.

“Panasevich’s passion and life’s work has been to provide the most precise, accurate and scientific data that empowers the industry to develop absolutely the best diets, treats, supplements and products for consumers,” Baker said.