Processing Conditions on Petfood Texture
All pet food, whether canned, dry, baked, or soft-moist, goes through a cook process that includes several inputs such as moisture, temperature, time, and ingredient variability. Ingredient factors, such as particle size or percentage of fat and fiber, can affect the processing characteristics of that ingredient.
For example, the particle size of an ingredient or recipe can affect the moisture uptake and gelatinization during extrusion. These in turn, can affect density and porosity and how well fat is absorbed. The other inputs of time and temperature also have their influence which when combined into the big picture form a product with its own unique texture. Density, in particular, is a major palatability driver for cats. Although an exact reason is unknown, a generally accepted theory is that cats prefer lower bulk density kibble due to the ease of fracturing a kibble into smaller pieces.
There are innumerable types of shapes in pet food. Consumers can find anything from “round and brown” to more intricate shapes like hearts, stars, bones and fish shapes to name a few. Shapes are not usually thought to affect palatability in dogs but there are some indications that cats and even certain breeds of cats may prefer a specific shape over another. Shape and texture are often viewed as separate. However, the shape will relate to texture as it pertains to how the food feels when bitten down on or chewed.