ATLANTA, GEORGIA, U.S. — The American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) said there was record attendance for its annual Pet Food Conference it sponsored on Jan. 28 in partnership with the Poultry Protein and Fat Council during the International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE). 

The day-long conference, which informs pet food industry representatives on the latest industry initiatives including the Food Safety Modernization Act (FMSA), had 275 people in attendance. This is the seventh year the pet food program has taken place at IPPE. 
“We were pleased by the conference’s turnout despite the inclement weather. The large attendance number proves what a strong and growing interest there is among AFIA members and IPPE attendees in regards to pet food,” said Leah Wilkinson, AFIA’s director of ingredients, pet food and state affairs. 
The Pet Food Conference boasted a diverse panel of speakers compiled from government agencies, private corporations, universities and AFIA staff. The program covered a range of topics from Dr. George Collings’ (Nutrition Solutions, LLC) presentation on “Ingredient Supply Challenges and Opportunities” to Sam Davis (South Carolina Department of Agriculture) and Richard Ten Eyck’s (Oregon Department of Agriculture) update on the Association of American Feed Control Officials. 
Svetlana Uduslivaia of Euromonitor International kicked off the program discussing “Domestic and Global Industry Trends.” Uduslivaia informed attendees that 68% of pet owners consider their pet a family member. These same pet owners are 60% more likely to purchase “green” pet food than those who do not view their pet as a family member. She also said moving forward cat treats and mixers will see the strongest growth but remain small in actual volume, and there is room for growth in “green” pet products as well as products for urban-area pets. 
Daniel McChesney, director of surveillance and compliance for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center of Veterinary Medicine, provided the full house with an update from the agency, covering FSMA, pet food sampling results and the Vet Laboratory Investigation and Response Network, also known as Vet-LIRN. 
McChesney applauded the industry on their efforts to reduce Salmonella in pet food products, noting it has decreased significantly in the last five years. “By in large, firms are doing a much better job of addressing the pathogen,” McChesney said. 
University representatives Cassandra Jones (Kansas State University) and Maria Cattai de Godoy (University of Illinois) addressed the group on the topic of innovation. Cattai de Godoy said innovation does not always relate "to the development of a new technology or with the use of best available research methods, but rather with the ability to adjust to a new vision and apply better solutions to meet new requirements and demands.”

She concurred with Uduslivaia’s fact on pet owners considering their pets as members of the family adding there are more pets in U.S. households than there are children — 83 million dogs and 96 million cats but only 73 million children. 
Comprised of the three integrated tradeshows — International Poultry Expo, International Feed Expo and International Meat Expo — the global annual poultry, feed and meat industry trade show was at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.