Hope Pet Food breaks traditional pet food barriers by producing insect-based treats for dogs
By Food in Canada staffProducts Pet Food Editor pick Hope Pet Food insect protein
Hope Pet Food, a women-led Canadian startup founded by Dr. Sofia Bonilla and Kasey Dunn, recently announced the pandemic did not stop them from creating over 300,000 hypoallergenic, eco-friendly bug treats for a smaller pawprint.
“We are proud to be leaders in sustainable insect-based pet food. More action needs to take place if we want a better future and the pandemic is not going to stop us,” said Dunn, co-founder of Hope Pet Food.
Based in Mississauga, Ont., Hope Pet Food offers treats that are made of responsibly sourced ingredients in Canada that include insects, algae, and fungi.
“We love plants and there is no doubt eating more of them and less animal products is better but plants cannot provide all the nutrients pets need,” said co-founder and CEO Dr. Bonilla, who has a PhD from the University of Toronto in bioprocess engineering with expertise in proteins. “On the other hand, it is pretty clear that we cannot continue livestock and fish farming as it is today, so why should we settle with meat-based or plant-based products when there is so much more like insect protein or algae oils?”
The meat-alternative human food realm is exploding. However, innovation in the pet food space has lagged. With 25-30 per cent of meat produced in North America going to pet food, this is leaving a big environmental pawprint. Insects can play a key role in reducing the impact pets have on the planet. Not only do they require less resources, but they eat pre-consumer food waste.
“When I moved to the Netherlands to explore the potential of alternative proteins from algae, the more I learned about it, the more it became clear that we need to reimagine our food systems to be sustainable,” said Dr. Bonilla. “After doing research at the intersection of biology, environment and engineering for 15 years, I felt creating truly sustainable pet food was possible and if no one was doing it, then I should use my scientific background to have a positive impact.”
Hope Pet Food launched their first product October 2021, in the midst of the pandemic: Berry Buglicious dog treats. These oven-baked biscuits are made in the Greater Toronto Area with insect protein, cranberries and maple syrup.
“People often ask if dogs like our treats? The proof is in the pudding. Ask my dog. She will definitely let you know. It’s nothing weird, just bugs,” said co-founder Dunn.
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