The Food Source is excited to be on site at the IFT FIRST: Annual Event & Expo in Chicago, IL. July 10-13, 2022.
In 2007, a massive recall rocked the US pet industry due to the usage of Chinese-sourced, melamine-tainted wheat gluten within certain branded pet foods. This recall led to a massive shift against sourcing ingredients from Chinese-based processing facilities.
No single ingredient sourced for use in pet food was immune to this shift in sourcing. Buyers from across the nation scrambled to obtain their proteins, grains, vegetables, fruits and other raw materials from sources outside of China. Unfortunately, other potential growing regions were slow to catch up.
Prior to this recall, Chinese exports of processed vegetables more than doubled between 1992-1994 and 2002-2004. This increase in vegetable production allowed China to become the price leaders in the market, while shrinking the demand for non-Chinese sourced options.
The 2007 melamine recall coincided with a period of incredible growth within the pet industry. In the same ten-year period from 1994 to 2004, the US pet industry also more than doubled to $34.4 billion dollars. This growth was, in part, spurred by the desire for pet owners to continually diversify their pet’s diet and deliver a more “homemade” feel to their pet’s daily meals.
While already having an established foothold in the international tomato and onion markets, The Food Source International (TFS) was able to quickly adapt to the evolving needs of the pet market by identifying and qualifying additional EU processors of dehydrated vegetables. This quick adjustment allowed TFS to offer a base supply of EU carrots, green beans and cabbage, to name a few.
Ingredient solutions were in place for the immediate needs of the pet industry but could not address a large growing need for dehydrated celery stalk and leaf. While many Chinese sources for dehydrated celery stalk and leaf existed, there was nowhere else in the world that had established an ongoing supply at a price point that would be feasible for use within the industrial food manufacturing market.
While responding to the immediate needs of the pet industry, TFS was able to secure valuable off-shore relationships at the processing level. In a four-pronged cooperation between our customers, our off-shore processors, the growers and ourselves, we contracted the planting and harvesting of 2,000,000 lbs. of fresh celery. This fresh celery, when harvested, is immediately transferred to our processing partner for cleaning, cutting and dehydration. Within 24 hours of initial harvest, the finished dehydrated product is packed and prepped for standard quality testing.
When completely harvested and processed, this 2,000,000 lbs. of fresh celery equates to over 200,000 lbs. on a dry basis. More importantly, it provides for the ongoing annual production of celery stalk and leaf, and gives us a blueprint for additional development of new and innovative dehydrated products native to the EU.