Color plays an important role in consumers’ preference for food and drinks. In fact, a 2007 study published in the Journal of Consumer Research concluded that color is a more powerful influencer than flavor. At the same time, more and more consumers want food and drink color to come from natural sources.
However, there are some misperceptions that are heard quite often. A list of the most common misperceptions is included below.
- Intensity has to be given up. This is not completely false, but it is overestimated. Reality is that, for most applications, we can nowadays achieve very bright and intense tones. The source of this perception are common examples of food products in Europe which lack the bright colors that are commonly used in North and South America. In the first place, keep in mind that European food manufacturers began the transition to colors from natural sources several years ago, before some of the technology advances in natural color. In the second place, European products often use “coloring food”, which tends to provide less intensity.
- Flavors are a common issue. This is an area where significant advances have been made during the last years. It is true that many natural color sources have the potential to provide secondary notes in some applications. However, new filtration and purifying technologies may remove unwanted flavors from plant color sources. In addition, natural color solutions can be customized in order to reach shading objectives without providing any flavor. In general, when it comes to natural coloring, there is more complexity but almost always a solution is available.
- Natural coloring is less stable. We find that this misperception is very common, but not quite precise. Actually, natural coloring maintains better than its synthetic equivalents. And during a challenge where juice was subjected to a test of stability in the light, a Red 40 had a markedly worse result than the natural red solution, which used anthocyanin juice for vegetables.
- Natural coloring is expensive. This is a factual assumption if natural coloring is compared to the synthetic one. However, we must remember that color is at least as important as flavor when it comes to determining consumers’ preference; therefore, natural coloring is not necessarily expensive.
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