The Role of Color in Humanized Pet Treats

Pet Treats Are Looking Awfully Similar to Human Foods

Last December, Sensient Colors’ President, Mike Geraghty, wrote about the humanization of pet trends and made five predictions for the coming years including…
5-reasons-why While we are only halfway through 2017, prediction number one “Ongoing Innovation in Pet Snacking” has really been taken to new heights. If you have been following the latest pet treat/snack options on the market, then you know todays’ pets are no longer in the dog house, they are (figuratively speaking) in the dining room feasting on chicken pot pie, sweet potato fries, peanut butter and honey baked goods, rawhide lollipops and topping it all off with some holiday cookies.

As the saying goes, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”. Pet brands are blurring the lines between human and pet food. While ingredients, flavors, and packaging claims are certainly an emphasis area, there seems to be an even higher standard placed on visual appeal—especially since pet food marketers are capitalizing on the idea of what looks appetizing to humans must be tasty for their pets.

The Role of Color in Humanized Pet Treats and Snacks

baby-kitten As pet owners endear their pets more like children, it’s not surprising pet treat innovation is pulling visual inspiration from human snacks. Similar to kid-friendly snacks on the market, color is playing an important role in new pet treat product development. Just as pet owners do for their own food purchases, they are also reading the ingredient lists of their pets’ food and expecting to see color from botanical sources.


Salmon Puffs for Cats

Concept: Pink fish-shaped extruded snacks with natural salmon flavor and color


The high heat associated with the extrusion process can cause browning in beet vegetable juices and color degradation with red anthocyanins


Stable options like red iron oxides, carmine or innovative heat-stable red vegetable juices like SupraRed™

christmass tree shaped cookie

Frosted Holiday Dog Cookie

Concept: Naturally colored yogurt coated, grain-free dog treat in holiday shapes


Water-soluble natural color powders do not disperse well throughout coatings, resulting in uneven and speckled color distribution


If the bone’s moisture content is high, water soluble colors will migrate and bleed towards the area of greater moisture concentration


Oil-dispersible natural color systems such as the Microfine™ technology

Fire sticks

Beef and Cheese Taquito

Concept: Co-extruded, natural red and yellow cylindrical stick treat with natural beef flavor and real cheese


The high heat associated with the extrusion process can cause browning in red vegetable juices and color degradation with red anthocyanins

In co-extruded treats, if a water soluble color is used in one layer, and an oil soluble color in the other layer, the colors will migrate away from one another and bleed out

Calcium content in the cheese can cause pinking in yellow annattos



Stable options like red iron oxides, carmine or innovative heat-stable red vegetable juices like SupraRed™

A natural color system that encapsulates oil or water colors from migrating out like our Advanced Emulsion Technology (AET) with Beta-Carotenes and Turmeric

Stable natural yellows/oranges such as iron oxides and riboflavin

To mitigate pinking of annatto, it’s best to formulate with oil dispersible annatto solutions. Sensient’s portfolio of Microfines™ has many cheese shade options which can be added to the cheese mass prior to the introduction of the rennet

Have pet treat ideations of your own? Let’s talk about their colorful opportunity. You can request a consult at any time here or if you’re ready to start formulating, here’s a quick place to request color samples.

Related Posts

Mothers Know Best: How Moms are Influencing the Food and Beverage Industry

Rubio’s Fast-Casual Fresh Mex Restaurant Removes Caramel Coloring

How Big Food is Taking on a World of Picky Eaters

Kraft Heinz Doubles Oscar Mayer’s Marketing Budget to Promote Natural Ingredients

The Magically Colorful Unicorn Trend

Caribou Coffee Cutting Artificial and Caramel Coloring from Beverages

A Colorful Twist on a Sweet & Salty Snack

Food Color Effect on Older Consumers

Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins Removing Artificial Colors by End of 2018

Food Color is as Important as Taste

California Introduces “Warning Label” Bill for Foods Containing Artificial Dyes

Myth or Fact? Artificially-Colored Foods Are Bad for You

Further Concerns Over the Safety of Titanium Dioxide

Panera is 100% Additive-Free

Formulators Taking Solution-Approach to Natural

Consumers Emphasizing Ingredients on Food Labels

#TBT A Look Back at the Co-Creation of the Food Coloring Business

8 Foods You Would Never Guess Were Artificially Colored

Color of Food Guides our Brains

Naturally Coloring the Beverage Industry

Are Autumn Leaves the Next Source of Natural Color?

Food Colors Market to Reach $3.75 Billion by 2022

Spirulina Algae: Next Natural Food Trend

Why Blue Foods Are Perceived Less Natural

Big Brands Clean Up Portfolios for Consumers

Natural Colors Linked to Positive Health Effects

Many Food Companies are Cooking Up New Natural Recipes

SweeTARTS Launches Five New Custom Colored Gummies Shaped as School Mascots

European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) Continues Research on the Safety of Titanium Dioxide

A Deep Look into Spirulina: an Emerging and Popular Natural Color Source

Does Mac&Cheese Lead the ‘Free-From’ Trend?

Why Wegmans Removed Artificial Colors in their Icings

Food Companies Are Not Phasing Out Artificial Colors Fast Enough for Some

Heinz Removing Artificial Colors from Pickles

Kraft Launching Jell-O Line Without Artificial Colors

McDonald’s Removing Artificial Colors from Iconic Chicken Nuggets

Natural Colors ‘Upsurge’ in 2016 Market Share

Consumers Are Influenced by the Color of their Food