Pet treats offer health and wellness benefits along with a way to pamper pets

Dog and cat treats with functional claims and health benefits are increasingly popular among pet parents. In the U.S., 70 percent of consumers say treats with functional benefits play an important role in their pet’s health and 71 percent seek treats that address health concerns or offer extra nutrition, according to a June/July 2017 Packaged Facts survey.

Popular functional treat categories include claims such as dental and oral health, skin and coat, and joint health. The most popular among these categories is dental treats, which according to Packaged Facts make up 25 percent of treat and chew market sales.

In addition to health benefits, the June/July 2017 Packaged Facts survey revealed that pet owners use treats to bond with and pamper their pets. At 35 percent, indulgent treats are the largest category among dog treats..

Petfood R&D Showcase attendees learned more about pet treats on October 9-11, 2018 at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas. The 2018 edition featured the exclusive theme, “Treats, Toppers and Inclusions.” In the market today the fastest growing categories are pet treats, foods with inclusions, and indulgence items to place on the top of the pets’ foods.

This one-of-a-kind workshop featured three days of exclusive networking with leading suppliers, researchers and pet food industry professionals, plus cutting-edge scientific presentations and interactive demonstrations focusing on the science and technology behind treats, toppers and inclusions in pet food.

This year’s workshop included six interactive lab sessions highlighting the possibilities of pet treat, toppers and inclusion:

  1. Fruit and vegetable purees and powders for wet or dry pet meal toppers, from TreeTop, which said the toppers can entice the most finicky pet eaters while offering highly digestible, natural sources of fiber and antioxidants.
  2. Inclusions that can be added to dry or wet pet foods, plus pet treats, to provide novelty, owner appeal, color and additional palatability, while also serving as carriers for functional ingredients, from the Peterson Co. They also demonstrated gravies that can provide the same benefits as toppers for kibble, along with their Petfood R&D Showcase partner, Extru-Tech, which demonstrated making inclusions and soft-moist treats with a tabletop extruder.
  3. Sorghum as an abundant, natural, digestible ingredient to replace wheat in dog biscuits while offering functional benefits such as antioxidants, presented by the Kansas State University Pet Food Program in partnership with AIB International (host of the interactive labs).
  4. Microencapsulation technology, presented by PetShure from Balchem, to explain how the technology can protect ingredients for targeted nutrient delivery and improved functional pet food and treat products.
  1. Insects as a superfood for pet treats, presented by Enterra Feed Corp., which led a session on using ingredients derived from black soldier fly larvae.
  2. A look at gates, diverters and valves for use in pet food and treat manufacturing facilities presented by Vortex Values.

Petfood R&D Showcase will take place again in the fall of 2019 in Manhattan, Kansas featuring a new and exclusive theme.