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Michelle Sandau, Ph.D., Director, Research & Development at AFB had the privilege of speaking at Petfood Forum in Kansas City, MO, USA in May. The topic of her presentation was “Specialty pet food formulations: Bridging the gap between emotions and science.”

During this presentation, Sandau discussed bridging the gap between emotions and science when formulating, researching, developing and deploying specialty pet foods.

“A subjective response is difficult to measure. Many times, it is an opinion or feeling based on a personal perspective. An example is sharing our pets’ feeding experiences: “Zoey doesn’t like the brown kibbles in her food. She picks them out and leaves them by her bowl.” Or “Sammy loves his new food. Every time I go to the kitchen he follows me and sits by his bowl.”

“An objective feeding experience can be measured and quantified. In the pet food industry, we can objectively quantify consumption by measuring how many grams or cups of food our pet eats. However, the subjective opinions mentioned earlier can also be quantified if gathered in a controlled setting and with a large enough sample size to make conclusions.”

“Behavioral assessments use tools to interpret an additional dimension of the feeding experience, or what we call Performance Beyond ConsumptionSM . These tools are designed to augment, not replace, technical palatability consumption. So, in addition to “how much” does a cat or dog eat, we can quantify “how” they eat. For example, our Nose in BowlSM methodology is an indicator of a dog’s food focus while eating which provides an added dimension of preference. Since pets can’t verbally tell us what they like or don’t like about a food, quantifying behavioral responses is a valuable way to gain this insight.”

The 20-minute presentation is on demand on

To learn more about AFB’s palatability trials and how we can assist with your product development, please email Michelle Sandau, or contact your AFB Sales Representative.