Natural Brown for Pet Kibble and Extruded Treats
Demand for Human-Like Product Appeal Increasing
Food related consumer preferences go through changes regularly due to new market and consumer trends. Due to the growing general interest in more natural and simple products across several categories, consumers tend to make more mindful choices in their food and drink purchases than ever before. Often they do pay close attention to the ingredient lists, claims, and health-related product qualities. Due to the thoughtful food consumption combined with the trend towards humanization of pets, many consumers look to provide their pets human-like products and experiences (ie. when it comes to product appeal), and align part of their petfood purchase to their personal food and nutritional preferences. According to Mintel data,
“MORE THAN 50% OF PET OWNERS IN SEVERAL EUROPEAN COUNTRIES WOULD LIKE TO FEED THEIR FAVOURITE ONES WITH MORE NATURAL FOOD, WHICH HAS THE SAME QUALITY AS HUMAN FOOD.”
In addition, for example in Spain, 77% of pet owners say that it is important to check the petfood labelling to ensure there were no hidden ingredients, Mintel further comments.
Visible Effects upon Petfood Product Development
Consumer demands by definition influence and often shape new product development. Consequently, several trends in formulating petfood have become visible in Mintel GNPD data in recent years:
- “no additives” nor “no preservatives” claims penetrate 50% of the category with a 15% increase in 2019 compared to 2014
- Possibly influenced by the conversation about human sugar intake, petfood with a declaration of caramelized sugar reduced by 2/3 in 2018 vs. 2014. The claim “no added sugar” saw an increase of 5,6% in the same time period in North America and Europe.
Recently, we have seen a lot of interest to remove caramel colouring from pet kibbles. These inquiries most likely stem from the increasing interest in plant-based ingredients in consumer’s own food purchases translating into the pet arena as well. There is a growing demand for natural brown colourings based on plants and fruits.
Natural Colour Challenges for Brown Shades
The substitution of caramel colouring in extruded kibbles is complex, due to variations in the kibble base. Every recipe is different, and where once grain-based recipes were very popular, now, there is an increase of grain-free or protein and vegetable mixtures. These varied ingredient combinations change the colour of base products, so a one-size fits all solution is not the best approach in kibble applications.
Additionally, the extreme heat associated with extrusion and the pH of the base material are two components that could potentially affect the end colour result. Dependent on target shade, a red natural colour could be a component in the solution, whilst some red colouring solutions are sensitive to heat. Extrusion processes also vary greatly from company to company, so colour formulations most often need to be custom to the respective processing conditions, whilst – of course- needing to be regulatory-compliant in the application for cat and dog food.
Perfecting Kibble Colour with a Customized Approach
Due to the variations associated with heat, pH, base colour and extrusion, a tailored colour solution is often necessary to achieve stable target shades. The following can give you some first impression on what that could mean for different shades of brown:
TARGET SHADE: HONEY BROWN
Colour Solution: a blend that includes natural brown
TARGET SHADE: BUTTERSCOTCH BROWN
Colour Solution: natural oranges like beta carotene in combination with natural brown
TARGET SHADE: HICKORY BROWN
Colour Solution: natural yellow, natural red combined with iron oxide
TARGET SHADE: DARK BROWN
Colour Solution: natural brown combined with iron oxide
Another hot topic to consider when formulating with natural ingredients in pet food is colouring food usage. Do you need colour assistance to find ingredient alternatives to caramel or oxides or even other natural colours? Contact us today for tailored solutions and more information. Or would you like to check out how to win pet owners through colour?