How HOPE Pet Food Came to Be

How HOPE Pet Food Came to Be

How HOPE Pet Food Came to Be

Alternative protein to the rescue! But how did it all begin?

There are 7.6 billion people on the planet.

Let me repeat that… there are 7.6 BILLION people on this planet we call home!

It’s no shocker that having that many people raise several challenges. There are issues of shear space and population density. How to use our natural resources wisely? The whole greenhouse gases issue, and food shortages… the list goes on.

The Earth imaged from space

The harsh reality is that we simply can’t sustain the rate that we’re using up Earth’s resources. Sure, Elon Musk thinks we can find a way to live on Mars. However, I think we can all agree we’d rather not just abandon this giant rock that we call home. Besides, Elon’s solution is definitely not a sure thing.

Many people in the scientific community are working to think of creative solutions to these complex problems.

HOPE Pet Food was born out of one of those creative solutions. To understand how HOPE came to be we have to go back a little bit.

It All Began With A Realization

The founder of HOPE Pet Food Sofia Bonilla found herself under the beating sun in Australia working on her masters. She began working on a research project there. Staring through a microscope at tiny organisms that could be apart of the solution to a huge ecological problem: oil spills.

Oil rig off the coast of Austrailia.

Sofia worked with a team to find specific bacteria in salt and fresh water that would eat oil and clean the water. A project she was fascinated by and passionate about because of the real-world implications. In Australia was where she fell in love with research. However, she began to realize that there was this huge gap between academia and industry.

Although science has new creative solutions to these huge problems we face, there’s just not enough of an incentive for industries to utilize them because it all comes back to the bottom line.

So we’re stuck, industries have to change for there to be a meaningful shift towards sustainability on a large scale.

Fast forward a few years…

Alternative proteins such as insects is becoming more mainstream in countries like the Netherlands and throughout Europe.

And Sofia finds herself in the Netherlands working in a postdoc position. Having finished her Masters in Australia, she then completed her PhD at the University of Toronto. Through her PhD studies, she started becoming increasingly aware of how our food system isn’t sustainable. So she packed her bags once again and flew abroad, driven by her curiosity and unanswered questions.

Through her postdoc studies in the Netherlands, her belief just kept getting reaffirmed.

“Something that for me, is crystal clear. We cannot provide the protein that we need as humans on this planet unless we change drastically how we create that food and that also applies to our pets.” – Sofia Bonilla.

While she was still in the Netherlands she discovered that insects could be the answer to this seemingly colossal problem. So with the entrepreneurial spirit, Sofia gets from her mom, she and her husband and their daughter came back to Canada, very pregnant I might add!

Founder Sofia Bonilla Pregnant in the Netherlands where her formulation of alternative proteins as the foundation of a business began.

Founder Sofia Cycling through the Netherlands (super pregnant!).

The Spark

While on mat leave Sofia began looking for resources to start what would eventually become HOPE. The idea of alternative protein sources that offer balanced nutrition lit a spark that was slowly growing into a flame. However, at the time she didn’t know that it would be for pet food! Still, what she did know was she saw the potential of insects.

All of her research was clear. Insects are a source of protein that is way more sustainable to produce than other more traditional sources. They’re a staple in the cuisine of many cultures because they actually do taste good! Not to mention they’re nutrient-rich.

insects have been an incredible alternative protein for ages across all cultures.

She was excited by the idea of combining her passion for science and research to create a product that helps solve a larger global issue. And so she continued fanning the flame.

Fanning The Flame

Sofia dove into her research and realized that pets are consuming over 25% of the meat in North America. That may seem impossible but there are over hundreds of millions of pet dogs and cats in North America alone. That makes almost a billion worldwide. A high protein diet has also been growing in popularity. So, through further research, Sofia realized that alternative proteins could be used in pet food. She realized they can offer a complete protein to pets while addressing the sustainability issues around meat production.

It seemed like the perfect concept to pursue further. Alternative proteins in pet food are innovative and something that can make a positive change. It’s also a small step in the direction of bridging a gap between industry and academia!

While Sofia was working on her venture, she met Kasey Dunn, who is now her business partner. At the time, Sofia and Kasey started exploring how they could worked together and they realized early that their values and vision for HOPE were aligned. They have been inseparable (in a remote way) ever since.

And so, HOPE pet foods was born.

Through countless hours spent researching and developing a business plan HOPE Pet Food came to fruition.

“If I died tomorrow, would I be happy with what I did today?”

A philosophy that Sofia tries to live by every single day. For her HOPE is exactly the embodiment of following through on her values. She dreams that through science and innovation HOPE can have some small part in a more sustainable future.

The world’s current meat consumption isn’t something the earth can sustain. We need to find alternative protein sources that can be maintained in the long run. Thankfully we can turn to science where they’re constantly coming up with solutions to these huge problems… now we just have to listen to them. Alternative protein sources can be produced way more sustainably than traditional protein like beef, pork, chicken, fish, etc.

Nutritious Alternative Proteins

Sofia dove deeper into her research for the best-balanced pet nutrition. As she did it became clear to her that pet’s don’t need to use traditional protein sources to be happy and healthy. Some of the protein-rich alternatives are:

  • Insects – Protein-rich, lots of calcium and fiber for digestive health
  • Algae – Protein-rich and healthy fats
  • Yeast- Protein-rich and a great source of complex B vitamins

Learn more about our ingredients here.

Algae is an amazing alternative source of protein.  Added to our insect dog food to create balanced nutrition.

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