The use of raw meat in pet food has become a movement. Raw pet food sales are expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 5.4 percent through 2025, with the market reaching $118.83 billion worldwide. Raw pet food has grown in popularity along with the increasing humanization of pets and rapidly expanding populations in urban environments.

Raw pet food is made from whole meats, bones, vegetables, and other uncooked ingredients, though the diet excludes traditional fillers found in conventional pet food, such as grains and certain vegetables. They’re used for meals or as pet treats, using animal products like lamb lung or beef tripe that often go to waste.

Over a hundred companies have grown up around the raw pet food movement in the United States alone, producing raw pet foods of varying qualities. Amid the growth in this industry segment, certain pet food companies have looked to make raw food for pets of higher quality and less prone to passing on diseases, one of the prime concerns posed about raw diets for pets. One solution for this is to use meat that’s been freeze-dried. Pet food manufacturing companies should thus seek out the safest and most effective ways to process freeze-dried meat to provide a healthy diet for people’s pets.

Going Raw: Freeze-Dried Pet Food Manufacturing

The popularity of raw pet food has grown for the owners of dogs, cats, and other pets. Promoted for their ability to improve dental health and digestion, along with other benefits, companies in the raw pet food industry look to provide the highest quality raw and freeze-dried pet food. Manufacturing for both nutritional value and safety, one process makers of raw pet food utilize is pasteurizing their products via high-pressure processes to comply with food safety regulations.

Though a certain amount of heat is used to freeze-dry pet food, manufacturing it involves temperatures only slightly over freezing. Additionally, the pressure involved in the process makes enzymes that spoil food and microorganisms that cause disease inactive. This process is beneficial in freeze-dried pet food manufacturing, as the raw meat is not heated to a temperature high enough to kill off bacteria. Incorporating this processing method for raw pet foods makes these products safer for pets and increases their shelf life.

Rising Popularity of Freeze-Dried Pet Food

Freeze-dried pet food has become popular in raw food diets for pets in recent years, with last year’s Global Pet Expo 2022 featuring many freeze-dried pet foods, kibbles, and snacks. Freeze-dried meats have allowed pet food manufacturers to offer raw or lightly processed meat products that present lower health risks and fewer challenges compared to storing other raw meat-based foods for pets.

It's even given the meat processing industry a way to make additional profits from organ meats normally treated as waste, appealing to many consumers’ demands for sustainability. The global expo also saw bison livers, green mussels from New Zealand, beef hearts, mackerel, and other exotic freeze-dried raw meats on offer.

For concerns about bacteria in raw meat, nothing’s better than freeze-dried. Pet food manufacturing companies have taken heed, and numerous diets are now utilizing raw, freeze-dried meats. Pets also prefer freeze-dried foods over many other raw options. With some freeze-dried pet foods, plants are also included in recipes with meat, providing pets with better nutrition.

Freeze-dried pet food manufacturing of raw meats includes:

  • Beef heart dog treats
  • Cat food
  • Cat treats
  • Dog food
  • Dog treats
  • Kitten kibbles
  • Pork cat food
  • Raw beef or fish toppers

While some people prefer dehydrated food for their pets, in many ways, a better option is freeze-dried pet food. Unlike dehydrated meats, manufacturing raw, freeze-dried meat does not involve much heating and does not reduce vitamins and minerals.

Benefits of Using Freeze-Dried Pet Food

When food is freeze-dried, it keeps it from spoiling without preservatives, chemicals, or other additives. Additionally, freeze-drying meats help retain fat content, minerals, and vitamins. It also harms the meat less than heat-based preservation techniques like dehydration.

Benefits of freeze-dried pet foods include: 

  • It comes in bites size pieces for all pet sizes
  • The easiest type of raw food to prepare
  • Easily rehydrated
  • Lower veterinary expenses
  • Mixes well with other foods
  • No need to measure or follow recipes for raw pet foods
  • Pets are more likely to eat it

With freeze-dried pet food, manufacturing companies are assured of longer shelf lives and less hassle with handling.

Prater Equipment for Freeze-Dried Pet Food Manufacturing

Prater Industries provides reliable solutions for processing materials, including freeze-dried pet food. Manufacturing equipment made by Prater can fit into already existing production lines, or our expert technicians can develop an efficient system for your specific application in our test lab. Prater’s hammer mills, fine grinders, and rotary sifters offer pet food manufacturers an excellent way to make superior products.

Prater Hammer Mills

Prater hammer mills utilize specially shaped grinding chambers with distinctive areas for grinding and releasing freeze-dried pet food. Manufacturing of the raw product involves feeding it into a chamber via a rotary feed or screw and through an inlet on top of the mill. Hammers moving at high-speed impact the freeze-dried meat, pummeling it against stationary cutting plates. Striking against the cutting plates decreases how fast the material moves, guiding the product back into the hammer’s path to produce a maximum variance in the impact speed.

The impact is amplified by minimizing the clearance between the screen and hammers at the 3 and 9 o’clock positions. This hammer-to-screen clearance increases when approaching the 6 o’clock position as freeze-dried meat moves down to the chamber’s bottom (for the Full Screen Hammermill but not the Mega Mill). This helps decelerate the freeze-dried particles as they continue through the sizing screen. Pet food not sufficiently processed is prevented from moving back through the inlet along which the finished product is conveyed. Once processed, the freeze-dried pet food continues to the discharge hopper beneath the machine, where the product can be mechanically or pneumatically conveyed to the next processing stage.

Prater hammer mills capable of manufacturing freeze-dried pet food include:

  • Full-screen hammer mills allow the use of the entire screen and feature wider rotors to accommodate different hammer arrangements.
  • Mega mill hammer mills are designed to provide uniform grinding without heat building up too much, filling a gap between Prater’s fine grinders and standard hammer mills.

Prater Fine Grinders

Prater Fine Grinders use high-speed impact to crush and shear freeze-dried pet food. Manufacturing of the product primarily takes place at the mill’s center, where rotor blades impact the material and then accelerate it outward, shearing the freeze-dried product against the screens and stationary jaws. These stationary surfaces decelerate the particles, which then maximizes the speed of the impact as material rebounds into the path of the rotor blades. Once properly sized, these particles are pulled through the screen, from which the freeze-dried pet food goes on to the next stage of the manufacturing process.

Prater fine grinder’s capability of manufacturing freeze-dried pet food includes:

  • M series fine grinder is compatible with heat-sensitive materials like freeze-dried pet foods, with a close tolerance between rotor blades to provide uniformity in a finely ground end product.
  • 10-bar fine grinder is a variant of construction used for explosion pressure containment when handling combustible powders. 

Prater Rotary Sifters

Prater Rotary Sifters usecentrifugal force to fluidize and accelerate the ground freeze-dried product onto the screen’s surface. A specially fit auger at the inlet moves the raw pet food into a screening chamber, from which rotor paddles push particles outwards. Finer freeze-dried particles pass through the screen and exit through a large hopper while a pitch on the rotor paddles advances coarser material to the end of the chamber, where it’s discharged through a separate hopper. The interaction between near-sized and oversized particles causes the screening surface to vibrate, which prevents the screen from blinding.

Prater rotary sifters capable of manufacturing freeze-dried pet food include:

  • Prater’s Rota-Sieve uses centrifugal force to achieve high capacities when scalping or sifting raw bulk materials. They are also efficient as a check screen, ensuring the quality of finished goods just before packaging them.

Contact us today to learn how Prater’s equipment can be readily configured for freeze-dried pet food manufacturing or other material processing applications.