PET Food Processing - March 2018 - 42


Cats tend to prefer
saltier flavors such as
those found in fish.
Dogs prefer savory
flavors like liver.
Mars Petcare


atants are as varied as the pet food brands that rely
on their use."
Successfully achieving palatability in pet food requires balancing product formulation, ingredient quality - including the freshness of raw materials -and
flavor profiles. When creating a successful product, pet
food processors need a trusted partner whose expertise
includes an understanding of the behavioral differences
and preferences of pets.
"We evaluate a flavor's success just as many others do,
which is by 2-bowl testing with dogs and cats and gathering data based on their first choice and consumption
of food eaten," Castillo says. "However, it's just as important to partner with experts who understand palatability
at a molecular level."
That molecular level includes putting the "roasted"
into beef and the "grilled" into chicken. It's the "burnt"
edges of the meatloaf and the "smoked" in the salmon.
Palatants can do that.
"Palatants are initially processed like a digest, but other ingredients are incorporated to facilitate a transformation called the Maillard reaction," Castillo says. "The
Maillard reaction is responsible for flavor and color
development during the cooking of a variety of foods."
Castillo explains, "With improved knowledge of the
molecular building blocks of pet food flavors and identification of the molecules that particularly influence pets'
preferences, it's possible to deliver effective pet foodspecific solutions to increase palatability."
Other ingredients may also be included in the palatant, some of which impact flavor, directly or indirectly.
For example, yeast extracts enhance flavors much like
salt, and antioxidants preserve
flavors by slowing the oxidation of fats. Oxidized fats have
a rancid off flavor that can
overpower desirable flavors in
the food.
Palatants are designed to
ensure consistent quality and
achieve label claims important
to pet owners. The food's appearance and aroma must also
meet the owner's expectations
at every feeding.
"Palatants today must be
in line with the demand for
natural," Castillo says. "There
is growing popularity from
consumers looking for clean
labels and claims for no meat
byproducts, allergens, artificial
flavors or colors."


Wet foods tend to naturally be more palatable due to the
processing techniques and higher moisture content.

"The leading factor
in making a pet
food purchasing
decision is taste, as
some pets can be
very picky eaters."
Moira Watson, Watson Inc.

Palatants help brands differentiate. This is increasingly important in the world of pet food.
"Data show that 75% of consumers buy their pet
foods in drug stores, warehouse stores or pet stores," says
Moira Watson, vice president marketing and communications, Watson Inc., West Haven, Connecticut. "Only
about 25% of consumers buy pet foods in grocery stores,
which is pretty amazing, considering that pet food is still
an entire aisle in most supermarkets. Even breakfast cereals are often relegated to, at most, only one side of an
aisle. Very few product categories in grocery stores command both sides of a whole aisle."
"The selection now is, at the very least, overwhelming," Watson says. "Deciding what foods are best for
your pet can be a real challenge, and many of us devote
time to researching the best ingredients for our pets."
Product labels are the main focus for the majority of
shoppers. They are looking at ingredient lists, country of
origin and front-of-package claims such as grain-free,
organic or non-GMO. They also look at flavor profiles

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of PET Food Processing - March 2018