Partner blog post / 09 August 2023

“Insect protein is sustainable and nutritious” – five reasons why Alvar Pet chose Volare as an ingredient partner

Sustainable dog food company Alvar Pet first began collaborating with Volare in early 2021 and the first commercial product featuring Volare’s insect-based protein was launched in September 2022. As both companies entered the Finnish startup scene around the same time, and had the same goals to make the food industry more sustainable, the partnership seemed like a no-brainer. Nonetheless, we wanted to dig a bit deeper to find out what made Alvar Pet choose insect protein as an ingredient and how they see the collaboration with Volare.

Alvar Pet dog treats

1. Insects present a climate-friendly alternative to traditional protein

Alvar Pet’s founders started the company because they were worried about how slowly the pet industry was changing towards a more environmentally-conscious direction.

“The money spent on pets has doubled within a decade, which means that more toys, food and other pet products are being consumed. Of course, we need to take good care of our pets, but it shouldn’t happen at the cost of the planet - sustainable options should be easily available,” says Alvar Pet co-founder and CMO Hanna Lemmetti.

To fulfill the company’s mission of minimizing the carbon paw print, Alvar Pet has analyzed their value chains and done careful climate calculations to find ways to reduce their business’ impact. Alvar Pet implements renewable energy in its production, uses recycled materials for packaging, and produces small batches based on customers' needs to reduce waste, rather than engaging in mass production. However, the fact remains that 75% of the climate impact comes from raw materials.

“Chicken and beef are examples of commonly used, traditional animal proteins. That’s why we looked into the use of insect-based protein,” Hanna adds.

2. Good for the dog and the planet – Volare’s protein is both

When asked how Alvar Pet came across insect protein in the first place, Hanna says that it was in the company’s pipeline from the start.

“Insect protein is pretty much the perfect ingredient for us – it’s healthy for both dogs and the environment,” Hanna states. “When we launched our first insect-based products, we also noticed that a lot of our customers already knew about the ingredient’s benefits. So, we got a really good response from the beginning.”

When it comes to environmental benefits, insect protein is in a league of its own. Insects are filled with high-quality protein while requiring far less land, water and energy compared to traditional proteins. As Volare’s product is based on the black soldier fly – the world’s best bioreactor that can digest almost all food waste and organic materials – the company uses food industry side streams as the raw material in its process, which promotes to the circular economy while resulting in zero waste.

3. Solutions for sensitive tummies – insect-based protein can suit special needs

In addition to being sustainable, insects could be the answer for dogs with sensitivities or allergies. The ingredient is highly digestible and has a great amino acid profile for dog nutrition.
Dogs’ food allergies have become more and more frequent, and finding the right foods for your pet can be a hassle.

“As insect-protein is such a new ingredient, dogs haven’t been able to develop a sensitivity towards it. So, if an owner is struggling to find a protein that works for their dog, we always encourage them to try insect-based food,” Hanna says.

In addition to dog food, Volare’s protein has been used in cat and bird food and trialed in many others. According to initial tests insect-based protein improves the animals’ gut health, making it beneficial as well as nutritious. The protein’s taste has also gotten good feedback from owners – though pickiness is expected among some dogs, as with all pet foods.

4. Sustainability is a rising purchase criterion among consumers

While some consumers opt for insect protein due to health reasons, sustainability is the main driver for others. Though the change in the pet industry is happening slowly, more and more eco-conscious consumers are looking for sustainable products for their furry friends. According to Hanna, this is partly due to there being more options on the market but also because people want to apply their own purchasing values to the animals in their households.

“Sustainability is an emerging purchase criterion – there’s no doubt about that. Consumers who look to buy circular fashion or second-hand furniture to minimize their own impact on the environment are also aware of the impact their pets can have. So, they search for better alternatives,” Hanna explains.

In addition to sustainability, especially Nordic consumers value locality in their products. When Alvar Pet and Volare announced their collaboration, a lot of customers were happy to hear these two Finnish companies are working together.

“When the ingredients are sourced nearby it also reduces emissions from logistics, so we’re happy we found a local partner in Volare.”

5. Product development with Volare works like a charm

Locality is not the only thing connecting these two companies – both are also hyper aware of the impact they have on the environment. As Alvar Pet is very diligent when it comes to doing their sustainability calculations, the company appreciated how thoroughly Volare had researched its own climate impact. Hanna says that this practice isn’t a given and Alvar Pet has had to do a lot of their own detective work to determine what is the carbon footprint of different ingredients and materials.

The two companies have also worked together to perfect their product based on the feedback that they received from dogs and their owners after they launched the insect treat for dogs.

“We found that there were some tweaks that could be made to the recipe. The development process with Volare has been really smooth and they’ve been very excited to make the product even better. It’s great to find a partner that doesn’t only say that they want to improve the product – but also delivers on their promise,” Hanna adds.

Alvar’s Treat called Bug is available for order on Alvar Pet’s website.