Making Pet Food Palatable

by Zoe Pollock

It’s a multi-part process:

To meet nutritional requirements, pet food manufacturers blend animal fats and meals with soy and wheat grains and vitamins and minerals. This yields a cheap, nutritious pellet that no one wants to eat. Cats and dogs are not grain eaters by choice, [AFB International vice president Pat] Moeller is saying. “So our task is to find ways to entice them to eat enough for it to be nutritionally sufficient.”

This is where “palatants” enter the scene. AFB designs powdered flavor coatings for the edible extruded shapes. Moeller came to AFB from Frito-Lay, where his job was to design, well, powdered flavor coatings for edible extruded shapes. “There are,” he says, “a lot of parallels.” Cheetos without the powdered coating have almost no flavor. Likewise, the sauces in processed convenience meals are basically palatants for humans. The cooking process for the chicken in a microwaveable entrée imparts a mild to nonexistent flavor. The flavor comes almost entirely from the sauce—by design. Says Moeller, “You want a common base that you can put two or three or more different sauces on and have a full product line.”

(Hat tip: Dave Pell)