The North American Pet Food Market is Going Natural

Transforming Pet Food Ingredient Lists in North America

Holistic wellbeing is the trending view where all aspects of one’s life intertwines to contribute to wellness. Consumers focused on wellbeing are taking a health-oriented perspective in multiple dimensions, and they are extending that same consideration to the food and treats they purchase for their pets. As naturalness trends in the human food and beverage space, natural ingredients and standards have begun to surge in the pet market as well, particularly in North America.


In recent years, the removal or scrutiny of certain ingredients, like artificial colors, have become more and more common. This is accelerated even further by regional bans of titanium dioxide in food, beverage, and pet products like the one taking effect in Europe in 2022. From individual brands assessing their own products to retailers like Petco® instituting a policy that impacts all products on their shelves, clean ingredient lists have become an expectation rather than a bonus feature.

Understanding Brand Priorities During Renovation

To adapt to shifting consumer expectations, brands and formulators typically have several key priorities to keep in mind:





Permissibility icon checklist


Together, these three categories represent the major challenges faced by developers tasked with renovating pet product lines to replace artificial colors with natural pet food colors. Sensient’s team of experts understands and supports development teams at each step of this process.

Formulation begins with a lens of permissibility: color experts will not recommend colors that are not permitted within the pet category or that do not align with a designated “no-no” list targeted by that brand. For example, although titanium dioxide is an extremely effective solution for opacifying gravies in retort canned pet food, because it is not allowed within certain regional or brand-specific guidelines, alternatives like Avalanche™ will be recommended.

To achieve a successful conversion with brand partners, Sensient offers a cost-tier renovation approach that focuses on “good, better, and best” options for each item. This allows our customers to choose the solution that best meets their needs.

beet dog bone


  • Cost-effective; good red color; single component solution of an easily recognized ingredient.
  • Not heat stable, so color fades during processing; red shade is more pink than meaty.
ruby dog bone


  • Strong red shade; single component solution for clean label and simple formulation with beet labeling; heat stable under baking process.
  • Red shade is more pink than meaty; more expensive than standard beet.
custom blend dog bone


  • Perfect meaty red shade; heat stable with optimized in-application performace.
  • Blends are more expensive than single component solutions; multiple ingredients need to be labeled.

Because natural conversions have been so urgently popular in the last year, Sensient developed the VIVID Studio to accelerate project timelines for customers. With so many options and components to consider, VIVID can help connect color experts, product developers, marketing professionals, and other decision-makers to get solutions identified quickly. Compare samples, discuss challenges, share goals, and troubleshoot scale-up without waiting for travel or shipping delays, no matter where you are in the world. VIVID helps brands by reducing time to market with rapid ingredient formulation.

This same process can be applied to any target shade, enabling our customers to achieve their goals with the right pet food color. For more information on Sensient’s broad rainbow of natural solutions for pet applications, check out these blogs:

red pet treat bones and a bowl of food
brown pet treat bones and a bowl of food
green pet treats shaped like bones
wet pet food

If you’re ready to begin a natural renovation process for your pet food or treats, request a sample to get started! Still have questions? Reach out to schedule a call or meeting with Sensient’s technical experts to get answers and jumpstart your project.

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