Developing natural colorants can take work. A pet food ingredient

supplier needed to breed their own plants when they needed a particular color.

Most humans’ perceptions of kibble color don’t match the actual pets’ abilityto see color, much less the animals’ reaction to that color. Ultimately, petfood colorants influence people more than dogs or cats, and as such colorantsplay a role in positioning a pet food product. Natural pet foods need naturalcolorants, and when those colors aren’t available, farmers may be able tobreed a plant that can provide just the right natural red.

Pet food color effects on owners

“Color creates interest – it makes food look appealing and tasty,” said TammiGeiger, marketing manager for pet food colorant supplier CHR Hansen, said.“And consumers want to give their pets food that looks appetizing and full offlavor. Color also creates contrast and brightens products to make them lookhealthier or meatier. Color is important when launching a new product or treatas it helps get the attention of the pet owner.”

Among new products, natural labeling claims have become widespread. Naturalpet food continues to be a strong driving trend in owner demand, new productdevelopment and subsequent pet food formulation and marketing. Pet owners maysee natural colorants as a sign of premium pet food, as human food trendslikewise moved away from the vibrant synthetic colors of a candy shop. Naturalcolorants may be one way pet food producers can make the appearance of naturalproducts match pet owner perceptions of what natural kibble should look like.

Natural versus synthetic pet food colors

Switching from synthetic colors to natural may have a learning curve, Geigersaid, but that can be overcome with a little education.

“It is important to understand how your production process and recipe canaffect the final color of your product,” Geiger said. “For example, pH isimportant to understand. With some natural pigments, like anthocyanins, pH canimpact the final shade and stability…Anthocyanins in general are very stablein low pH applications, and at neutral or higher pH they are less sensitive ifthe moisture content is low. And the more stable anthocyanins are suitable forapplications such as baked treats and extruded kibble.”

Developing natural colorants can take a bit of tinkering too. In one case, CHRHansen needed to breed their own plants when they needed a particular color.

“Pet food companies are looking for an alternative to synthetic reds and ironoxides,” Geiger said. “Hansen’s new ColorFruit reds are based on the Hansensweet potato – a new variety of sweet potato we created ourselves. They arebright, beautiful and stable and 100% plant-based with no off-taste. They areminimally processed and suitable for a long list of pet products. The Hansensweet potato received the IFT19 Food Expo Innovation Award, which recognizesoutstanding innovation in products, equipment, instrumentation, technology andservices.”

Pet food ingredient demand trends

Pet food customer demands now follow human food demands, changing whichingredients dog and cat food manufacturers purchase. Pet food ingredientcommodity buyers can learn what these future demands might be at PetfoodForum.

Source: Petfood Industry News

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