Natural and vibrant: Why plant-based colors are popular
- Color in foods is becoming just as important as flavor for consumers, according to Food Ingredients First. Natural colorful ingredients such as beetroot, carrot and kale are increasingly showing up in vegetable and plant-based snacks.
- These unique colors in food can accompany exotic flavors that help stimulate appetite and satisfaction, which natural color producer GNT says are key factors for how consumers choose snacks. GNT produces Exberry, a brand of coloring foods made from fruit, vegetables and edible plants.
- As the trend grows, more consumers are sharing their culinary experiences via social media platforms. Michael Serrur, a food writer with GNT USA, told Food Ingredients First two trends gaining momentum are exotic flavors and captivating colors. "As social media becomes increasingly visual, color helps make snacks more appealing and also helps indicate its flavor profile," he said.
As vegetable and plant-based snacks continue to get more popular, natural colors are becoming as trendy as interesting flavors. They also lend visual appeal on store shelves and social media platforms. For manufacturers, there has been a 77% growth rate for new products using natural colors between 2009 and 2013. Other statistics show 68% of all food and beverage products launched in North America from September 2015 to August 2016 used natural colors.
Another driver behind this movement to color is consumer desire for clean labels free from artificial ingredients, according to recent research. A GNT global consumer survey found that 79% of consumers define "natural" as being made without artificial colors. Because of this sentiment, manufacturers have been phasing out artificial colors in their products and moving to natural ingredients with strong colors. Hershey, General Mills, Campbell Soup and other food giants have created new items or reformulated older recipes without artificial colors.
Colors also tease anticipated flavors to consumers. Research has found 90% of shoppers make up their minds about buying a product from its color and perceived taste. If the color is appealing, they're more likely to buy it.
Many food and beverage manufacturers are using colors to attract consumers. Recently, Barry Callebaut launched a new ruby chocolate, Kellogg started a cupcake-flavored Unicorn Cereal with pink, purple and blue rings, and Campbell's Pepperidge Farm debuted Goldfish Colors snack crackers with hues sourced from plants. This trend could push more CPGs to use colorful natural ingredients when creating new products.
Shades of purple are particularly popular this year and are showing up in snacking products and other applications, Food Ingredients First reported. Lavender, mauve, lilac, magenta and dark violet colors sourced from purple carrots, sweet potatoes and yams are appearing more often in products on store shelves. Besides the visual appeal, these ingredients indicate a high phytonutrient content, signaling health and well-being to consumers. As more consumers search out better-for-you snacks, these plant-based colorful ingredients could attract shoppers looking for just that.
Colorful foods are particularly popular with millennials since they use Instagram and other social media platforms to show off their latest tasty treats. Colorful and delicious-looking food is more likely to be photographed and shared with friends and family on social media.
It's likely more colorful snacks and other foods will be produced in the near future since consumers are responding to their appeal. Manufacturers looking for that competitive edge might find naturally sourced colors are part of the answer.