Not all pet foods are created equal. Even though formulas and ingredient lists may be identical, there is wide variation in the quality of the ingredients used. One of the most important ingredients in a quality pet food is, of course, the protein source. Since fish are such an important part of the FirstMate story, let’s use fish as an example of how we source the best quality proteins for our products.
In our FirstMate and KASIKS dry formulas, we use concentrated protein meals in which most of the moisture and some of the fat has been removed. Our ocean fish meals use a combination of wild-caught herring, anchovies, and sardines primarily caught in the Pacific Ocean off the shores of the Pacific Northwest. The fish meals we use are 70% protein, which provides an excellent source of meat-based protein for pet foods. These fish feed on plankton, which makes them a rich source of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids but low in contaminants such as mercury.
The history of FirstMate is based on aquaculture and this is reflected in an exceptional depth of experience in sourcing and purchasing fish products. The founding company, Taplow Ventures Ltd, manufactured fish feed for aquaculture. Farm operators noticed that their dogs would eat the fish feed and end up with wonderful shiny coats. In response to requests from the farm owners to make a pet food, FirstMate was born and the first product was based on the high-quality fish meal being used for the aquaculture feed.
It is important to know that not all fish meals are created equal. A fish meal based on catfish, for example, can be relatively cheap and provide poor nutritional value. This is because catfish contains less fat and subsequently lower levels of healthy fatty acids such as omega 3, omega 6, DHA, and EPA. Some fish meals may contain just heads and frames, making it inferior to a fish meal made from whole fish, as used in FirstMate products. A pelagic or ocean fish meal suitable for aquaculture is of much higher nutritional value and is therefore much more expensive. Although unnecessary for pets, FirstMate uses the same high-value meal that is used in our proven aquaculture feed.
Our cannery produces fish formulas using wild-caught Coho salmon from sustainable Alaskan fisheries and tuna from sustainable fisheries in the Pacific Northwest; both of these fish sources are the same used for human consumption. The Alaskan Coho salmon is MSC Certified as a sustainable seafood choice, ensuring that this ingredient is not only a source of healthy fats and antioxidants but is also a good choice for the environment.
There are many health benefits to consuming fish products, and by sourcing and using the best quality ingredients, FirstMate maximizes the nutritional value available to pets.