Food fit for your furry family 🎞️

Our relationship with our pets is changing. We celebrate their birthdays, buy them gifts, and we are increasingly conscious of their diets. This, as well as the growth in pet ownership during the pandemic, has led to a boost in pet food sales and a shift in the types of foods we buy for our animals – pet food must be sustainable and healthy. Miguel Navarro and his family set up Golden Pet Food in Spain to meet the increasing demands of this market.

Companionship is core to the human psyche and one of the sources of that companionship has historically been our domesticated pets. Today, however, our relationship with them is changing. The past few years has seen a growing trend in the humanization of our pets. We celebrate their birthdays, purchase fashion accessories for them, buy toys on impulse, and search the internet for pet care services. We also want them to eat the very best.

Not only is our relationship with our pets changing but so too is pet ownership. When Europeans were deprived of human companionship during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns of 2020 and 2021, many got pets to compensate. Figures for European pet ownership published in 2021 by the European Pet Food Industry Federation show 46 percent of Europeans or 90 million households now own a pet, up from 85 million in 2019.


Golden Pet Food Golden Pet Food At its plant near Madrid, Golden Pet Food produces food for cats, dogs, and puppies. The high-quality products are designed to meet different dietary requirements.

These trends could not have come at a better time for Miguel Navarro, who founded and runs Golden Pet Food. In 2018, the family-owned business decided to build a new pet food plant at their headquarters, situated between Toledo and Madrid, around 40 minutes south of the Spanish capital.

The family chose Bühler to install the two key processes in their dry pet food plant – the single-screw extruder and the Aeroglide dryer. Both solutions were installed into the new plant in 2020.

“The most important thing for us is the issue of quality,” explains Navarro. “We try to reflect quality in our processes, in our professional staff, with everything focused on the product, making sure it is of the highest possible standard. There is a lot of competition in this market so if you want to differentiate yourself you must always strive for the highest quality.”

The relationship with Bühler goes back to the beginning. “Golden Pet Food approached us about five years ago to discuss their plans to expand and build a new factory,” explains Michael Davis, Area Sales Manager at Bühler.

 “They knew us and our reputation, and we convinced them that if they took our extruder and dryer, they would achieve a higher long-run performance and efficiency.” Forty years ago, Navarro’s father launched Gracesa, an animal feed company that supplied pet food producers. In 2016 Navarro saw an opportunity to buy the pet food company Golden Pet Food with plans to offer the highest quality product possible as a perfect synergy with his father’s business.

Demand was already growing when the pandemic hit and changed many people’s lifestyles. “There was a huge jump in the number of pets per capita during the pandemic because people did not leave their houses. The pet food sector is currently experiencing double-digit growth,” explains Navarro. “This is true especially in Spain, which is one of the countries in the eurozone with the lowest number of pets per capita, so in recent years we have been seeing a considerable increase.”

Today, Golden Pet Food supplies Spain, Israel, Morocco, other parts of North Africa, and the rest of Europe. They produce a variety of food for cats, dogs, and puppies, with their range meeting different dietary needs.

Golden Pet Food

  • Who: Golden Pet Food
  • When: Founded in 2016.
  • What: Golden Pet Food produces a range of healthy pet food for dogs and cats of different ages and dietary needs. The recipes are formulated by veterinary experts with a focus on palatability and digestibility.

  • Where: Toledo, Spain
  • Customer: Golden Pet Food supplies retailers in Europe, North Africa, and Israel.
  • Bühler: Golden Pet Food uses Bühler’s single screw extruder and Aeroglide dryer to make high-quality pet food.

Fit for a member of the family

Golden Pet Food products use the finest raw materials in order to meet the increasing demand for quality and variety in the market – demand that is driven by the trend toward humanizing pets.

“We don’t think of ourselves as pet owners but more as pet parents, which means we want the very best for our cat and dog children,” explains Marcel Ramseyer, Head of Market Segment Pet Food at Bühler. “Humanization means that trends in human food consumption are being replicated in the pet food sector. Greater fresh meat inclusion is a big thing, while we are also seeing a rise in alternative plant-based protein solutions as well as vegan dog food.”

Navarro believes the secret to differentiating his company’s product in a highly competitive market is the quality of the extruder he uses. It is in the extrusion process that the cooking takes place following the processing of the raw materials by blending, mixing, and grinding. It is here that the modification of the starch and denaturation of proteins happens, along with the shaping, expansion, and texturing of the end product. This process also dictates the quality and taste of the product.

“In the end it is the extruder that is the heart of the production process, so that is where you have to put more focus because it is where you can provide more value to your product,” explains Navarro. “The Bühler extruder offers us a very homogeneous product that is highly digestible. It has also allowed us to launch different types of products that need high starch digestibility, which we were not able to reach with our previous machines.”

Navarro also appreciates other benefits that the extruder offers, including the fact that it is very intuitive to operate. This means that staff can be trained quickly to use it and it is very easy to maintain and clean – all factors that are important in meeting the highest food safety standards.

The Bühler single-screw extruder provides a pre-conditioner set aside from the main shaft. It also provides access to under the machine as well as a large access door to the pre-conditioner to enable fast, effective cleaning. “The pre-conditioner is designed to have an independent mixing chamber on the top separated from the retention chamber, so your product is prepared the best way for the following extrusion step,” explains Ramseyer.

Another key production process provided by Bühler for Golden Pet Food is the dryer. According to Navarro the critical characteristics he needs in his pet food dryer are the ability to produce a homogeneously dried product, a clean design, easy maintenance, and energy efficiency. He estimates that by having a 10-ton-an-hour throughput the Aeroglide has shaved around 40 percent off his energy costs compared to his old dryer, which was capable of only 6 tons an hour.

“Among all the different dryers we looked at, the Bühler dryer best fulfills our need for efficiency, cleanliness, and product homogeneity,” explains Navarro. “By installing the Bühler dryer, we have saved money and a lot of time compared to our old dryers by cutting down on weekly maintenance as it is much cleaner to operate. We have also found, over time, that we are saving easily close to 50 percent of the time we use to spend maintaining the old dryer and it is around 15 to 20 percent more efficient.”

Golden Pet Food now offers a wide range of products. For dogs alone the company has 50 different recipe formulations requiring the high-speed changeover of production lines to ensure minimum downtime. Digitalization is one of the best ways of achieving this, along with a range of other efficiency savings. This is another reason why Navarro has again turned to Bühler. His plan is to install a mirror production line which will include a digitalization package using Bühler Insights, Bühler’s platform technology for optimizing plant efficiency, and MoisturePro, a cloud-based digital service to optimize drying performance, enabling better production, faster recipe formulation and even greater cost savings. “Like any other company today, digitalization is a very important part of our process in terms of expenditure of time and personnel. It removes human failures that may be in the process and delivers information that supports decision taking,” explains Navarro. “It’s difficult to be competitive today without digitalization.”

The Bühler Insights platform acts as a gateway to harness the benefits of digitalization and pro-vides transparency into process and machine data so actions can be taken to increase performance and optimize processes. The MoisturePro digital solution uses moisture sensors to analyze the final product with data instantly relayed to the dryer control software, where algorithms continuously adjust production parameters so that the optimum moisture content is achieved and maintained throughout the production process.

When Miguel Navarro decided to build a new factory, he approached Bühler. Area Sales Manager Michael Davies was at his side to discuss the core technology needs.
The pet food sector is experiencing high growth and we believe there will be many opportunities to create new products that will be driven by innovation.

Miguel Navarro, Founder and Managing Director of Golden Pet Food

The right moisture and consistency

One of the challenges for pet food manufacturers is getting the right moisture level in the product. Typically, the industry has a target level of 28 percent moisture. Over drying the product uses excess energy and increases costs unnecessarily; if it is too moist there is a risk of recalls from potential mold.

“The industry typically over dries to avoid recalls, but by using MoisturePro they are able to reduce their standard deviation from the 28 percent target by 1 percent, which means by year end they have saved significantly on energy costs. This is a big plus in the current climate with energy costs going through the roof,” says Davis.

Bühler is also set to supply Golden Pet Food with its Granulex® 5 series hammer mill. It grinds the raw materials used in the pet food to provide the correct consistency for the extruder. Brand new and just off the production line, this is the first time the Granulex® 5 is being installed in a pet food plant. On top of increasing throughput capacity and grinding to more stringent parameters the new technology is significantly more energy efficient.

Golden Pet Food has 50 different recipe formulations for dog food alone. Digitalization enables high-speed changeover of production lines.
At its plant near Madrid, Golden Pet Food produces food for cats, dogs, and puppies. The high-quality products are designed to meet different dietary requirements.
The Bühler single-screw extruder is the secret to differentiating Golden Pet Food’s products in a highly competitive market.
One of the most important characteristics of a dryer is energy efficiency. Aeroglide has reduced Golden Pet Food’s energy costs by around 40 percent compared to its old dryer.

Service close at hand

A large Bühler team based in Madrid supports Golden Pet Food in its everyday operations, especially in predictive maintenance, which ensures machine spare parts are available head of demand. “Having a service center so close to our facilities saves us a lot of time in supplies, in machine maintenance, and in problems that may occur in the production plant. The closer and more personal the contact with your partner the easier things are,” explains Navarro.

Always alert to the next big trend in his market, Navarro believes that demand for ever-more sustainable pet foods is set to grow. Bühler is ready to support Golden Pet Food on this journey by continuing to supply innovation that focuses on production efficiency, helps reduce waste, and is increasingly energy efficient.

“Sustainability is one of the great focal points in society today. You have to look at your processes to make them as sustainable as possible because your customers require you to comply with sustainability standards. If you can’t meet them, you just can’t be competitive,” says Navarro. “The pet food sector is experiencing high growth and we believe there will be many opportunities to create new products that will be driven by innovation.”

Golden Pet Food supplies its products to Spain, Morocco, Israel, other parts of North Africa, and the rest of Europe.
Digitalization is a very important part of our process. It removes human failures that may be in the process and delivers information that supports decision taking.

Miguel Navarro, Founder and Managing Director of Golden Pet Food

Watch the video about Golden Pet Food to learn more about the production of high-quality pet food.

We don’t think of ourselves as pet owners but more as pet parents, which means we want the very best for our cat and dog children.

Marcel Ramseyer, Head of Market Segment Pet Food at Bühler

Golden Pet Food is supported by the local Bühler service team in its everyday operations, especially in predictive maintenance. Area Sales Manager Michael Davis has been working with Navarro to support his development plan for Golden Pet Food.
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