Seeing a pet enjoy a meal is one of the special pleasures of pet ownership. But unpleasant odors can reduce the owner’s appreciation of the pet’s meal experience. To make mealtime a shared happy moment, pet food manufacturers need to develop products that not only appeal to a pet’s keen sense of smell but also seduce the delicate nose of pet parents 1.


The importance of smell


Scents have a unique power to instantly create strong feelings in people. They can evoke underlying memories and emotions, both good and bad. The emotional quality of products is thus becoming important to maintain a differential advantage on the market 2.


In an online consumer survey targeting French and American pet parents 3, 25% of respondents said that pet food odor was a very important criterion when choosing a product. Improving the smell of pet food can thus be an efficient way to upgrade pet owner meal experience, build consumer trust, and establish a positive brand image.


Pleasing owner, satisfying pets


To provide the best feeding time experience, pet food must smell great to both the pet and the pet parent. One strategy to improve the smell of pet food is to use flavored palatants. However, humans, cats and dogs do not always like the same smells. So what is the secret to satisfy them both?


From formulation to final validation by both pets and owners, only a combined expertise in pets’ preferences and flavor science enable development of sensorial solutions with premium palatability for pets and gourmet smells for humans.


1 Pickering G. J. 2009. Optimizing the sensory characteristics and acceptance of canned cat food: use of a human taste panel. Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition. 93(1):52-60.
2 Schifferstein H. et al. 2013. Influence of package design on the dynamics of multisensory and emotional food experience. Food quality and preference, 27, 18-25.
3 SPF online consumer study conducted with MetrixLab, 2015 – 970 American pet owners (616 dog & 354 cat owners) and 852 French pet owners (303 dog & 549 cat owners)

Take-home points

  • Pet food does not have to smell bad. Solutions exist to appeal to pets and delight pet parents.
  • Offering pet food with a smell that is in harmony with recipes and claims delivers true benefits to pet owners and supports brand storytelling.