Pet food manufacturers use water activity to monitor their products because:
Download the chart here.
Moisture plays a key role in the quality of pet food products. For each product, there’s an ideal range of water activity values that maximizes profit, nutrition, and tastiness while keeping the product safe from microbes and mold.
For example, bag of dog food kibbles has a moisture sweet spot of 0.55-0.65 aw. Any lower than 0.55, and the dog food is unappetizingly dry and hard. Not to mention that seller is losing money because it isn’t selling as much water as it could be. Any higher than 0.65 and the product will mold in the bag, embarrassing both the manufacturer and retailer.
Water activity has been used to guide the formulation of some of the most innovative--and commercially successful--pet food products. Complex pet food formulations like a simulated marrow- filled bone, a meaty cat food containing crunchy vitamin bits, and a shelf-stable moist meat-like product are all controlled by water activity.
Isotherms (curves showing how water activity changes as moisture increases and decreases in a specific product) are also a key formulation tool. They can be used to locate critical points where phase changes occur, to create mixing models, to investigate moisture-related issues, and in many other ways.
Knowing this moisture super-spec can help you solve specific moisture challenges, determine shelf life, choose packaging, monitor incoming ingredients, prevent spoilage, and maintain taste, texture and nutrition.
Water activity is a test anyone can run to precise scientific standards. We offer a certification course that trains new users to measure water activity. In 20 minutes, nearly anyone can learn to run a reliable, repeatable, verified water activity test.