How Can Pet Food Meet Trending Wellness Demands with Color?

quote 2Holistic Wellness Extends to Pet Products
Proactive consumer attitudes toward holistic wellness continue to expand, reaching mental, social, and emotional health as well as physical fitness. That proactivity and heightened interest extends to many pet owners as well, as the humanization of pets continues and premiumization of pet products reaches an all-time high.

Brands and developers looking to create wellness-oriented pet products can leverage natural ingredients toward these goals. In the past five years, pet owner interest in natural claims as a purchase factor have jumped 19% (Mintel 2022). However, a natural on-pack claim does not mean a dull or boring product. In fact, it could be detrimental for a brand to remove color in pursuit of a clean label. Natural food color ingredients lend themselves strongly to the overall perceived value of a pet kibble or treat.

The Value of Color in the Pet Category
A 2014 study from the Sensory Analysis Center at Kansas State University found that dry kibble will be most liked by pet owners if it varies in color, which increases the perception of a more expensive product. The same study found that pet liking was highly correlated with owner liking, indicating the importance of winning over pet shoppers to win over pets in the purchase and consumption process.

Sensient took this research a step further in evaluating the specific and quantifiable impact of color on purchase intent for pet owners in a 2019 online consumer research study. When shown four different kibble selections with color ranging from monochrome light brown to bright multicolor, pet owners selected the most colorful option as the best representation of kibble with superior nutrition, with a +17% increase in purchase intent over the next-closest option. Only 12% of the audience indicated that they would purchase monochrome kibble over colorful alternatives. Multiple pet food colors are critical in conveying nutrition content to pet owners.




Achieving Multicolor Goodness for Wellness Perception
In order to convey the premium, nutritious platform and ingredients that pet shoppers are seeking, use these tips to create a “better-for-your-pet” baked or extruded kibble or treat. Get started on your next project with these deliciously bold shades:


From deep beefy reds to pale salmon pinks, developers have a wide selection of bake- and extrusion-stable red solutions. From red iron oxide to advanced beet-based technologies like SupraRed™ and Magna Ruby, to carotenoids like Made-in-USA paprika, lycopene, and beta carotene, or even carmine and cochineal offer developers a range of pinks and reds to achieve meaty shades in treats and kibbles.

Sample Meaty Reds

For bold, eye-catching yellows in pet products like kibble and treats, color experts recommend options like yellow iron oxides, turmeric, beta carotenes, and annatto.

Sample Bright Yellows

Though blues from nature are limited, Sensient’s proprietary heat-stable natural blue vegetable juice is a great solution that can be used in blends with natural yellows to create AAFCO-natural greens that indicate the inclusion of pet-friendly vegetables like spinach, celery, or peas.

Sample Earthy Greens

Caramel-free browns from light brown to deep, dark shades to convey rich protein content can be achieved with iron oxide or plant-based colors like Sienna Fruit Juice and blends.

Sample Dark Browns

To represent ingredients like carrots in a kibble mix, developers can use bold orange color solutions with ingredients like USA-sourced paprika, beta carotene, annatto, or blends of natural reds and yellows.

Sample Bold Oranges

With Europe’s 2022 ban on titanium dioxide in pet food taking effect and retailers increasingly pressuring brands to remove the ingredient, the industry needs alternatives. Whitening and opacifying agents like those in Sensient’s Avalanche™ portfolio offer developers a bright, clean, consistent base on which we can build these bold colors.

Sample TiO2 Alternatives


If you still have questions about bringing these bold hues to your pet products to create the health halos and wellness-oriented appearances that win consumer appeal, reach out to our team. We love to talk color and we’re here to help you!

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