It has long been recognised that consumer preferences can, and often are expected to, cross into products specifically for pets. One such trend we have seen making a real impact is all around a cup of tea!

Can the humble cup of tea affect pet food manufacturing
Fresh tea leaves inspiring pet food manufacture

How tea is affecting pet food manufacture

According to research by National Tea Day, the future of tea is bright. The 24-45 year old UK tea drinker has transformed into an incredibly dynamic opportunity where brands with quality products, a great story and values that resonate are revolutionising growth.

An incredible 80% of brands reported that ‘health and wellness’ is driving sales, comprising of teas with specific health benefits or a functional ‘feel good’ tea which encompasses ethical sourcing and compassionate packaging. So, what has this got to do with pet food?

Simply, these highly regarded values and fashionable trends are playing a bigger part in the decision making process for what people buy for their pets. Therefore, it’s no surprise that there’s been a rise in enquiries for how eucalyptus, camomile and honey, or a combination of these flavours/aromas, for example, can be usefully added, particularly to the manufacture of pet treats.

Consumers are definitely more knowledgeable about what they want to feed to their pets. Heightened awareness around pet obesity, followed by pet allergies and sensitivities, has seen a myriad of targeted diets and treats coming to market. But we’re now seeing the next phase which is pet owners turning their focus to heathier pet food products using more natural ingredients.

What does this mean for the pet industry?

Potentially the new feed formulations will use alternative raw materials and this may present a flavour profile pets are not used to.

For the industry this presents two challenges – firstly, should manufacturers try to return the flavour profile nearer to ones that pet digestion is currently more acclimatised to, therefore reducing the risk of refusal in the bowl? And, given the addition of flavours/aromas add no nutritional value to the diet or treat, can the cost of addition be justified?

Tastetite encapsulation manufacturing technology for flavours and aromas, which was developed by Inroads, offers enormous advantages in finding cost-effective solutions and gives complete formulation flexibility. For example, Tastetite can incorporate an aroma attraction on the outside, with a completely different taste profile, which can be an exclusive signature aroma designed specifically for market brands if required.

Essentially, it doesn’t matter how good the diet or treat is, if a pet leaves it in the bowl then the consumer is not happy. Fortunately, our in-house chemists have been working very hard to adapt human food science into recommendations suitable for pet food and treats with a complexity of flavours for pets now possible.