Colourful And Natural, Please!

Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

Concentrates from fruit and vegetables enhance shelf appeal. By Victor Foo, general manager, GNT Singapore Private Limited


The variety of food and beverages available in the supermarkets has probably never been as vast as today. When shopping for groceries, people can choose from countless offers. But, what is especially important to consumers? How can producers manage to stand out on the shelfs among their competitors? How can they attract their customers’ attention?

Aiming to create future-proof products that meet their expectations, food and beverage manufacturers need to consider the answers to these questions.

For many years, food and beverage innovations have been strongly focused on flavour. But, times are changing and colour is gaining centre stage. Society is increasingly setting high value on visual experience, especially when it comes to food. Eating has more and more become a lifestyle topic, reflecting peoples’ personalities. Colour, today, plays an essential role in purchasing decisions.


We Eat With Our Eyes


Colour sets 75 percent of the first impression of a product. In fact, it is the primary indicator of quality and taste. As the results of a comprehensive survey commissioned by the GNT Group and TNS shows, every third consumer (33 percent) evaluates colour when deciding whether to buy a product, or not. In the Asian region, this even applies to 42 percent of consumers.

The reason for this is simple: since our brain connects certain colours to certain flavours, particular colours trigger our expectations of how a food or drink will taste. Green, for example, leverages on associations like sourness and evokes the impression that food products are fresh, natural and healthy. Reds and purples, on the contrary, boost the impression of sweetness.


Play With Colour


Offering customers multi-sensory experiences that trigger the right associations, can definitely support a new product’s success. Recent developments in the food industry have already taken the growing relevance of colour into account: products explicitly reference colour in their name; some producers even create unusual looks, like beer in red or blue; some play with colour and mix up colour and flavour to surprise shoppers with, for example, yellow candy that tastes like blueberry.

Especially in Asia, people love sweets in vibrant colours and extraordinary shapes, like fruit gums in shape and colour of movie characters, edible toys, jellies imitating other food such as sushi or cake.


Colour And Naturalness


Even though colour is key, there are more factors influencing products’ shelf appeal, and with that consumers’ purchase decisions. Due to the globally expanding trend towards greater naturalness, people are not just driven by the outer experience. Sixty-six percent of consumers (even 85 percent of the Asians) take a close look at the ingredient list of an item before putting it into their shopping carts.

When it comes to colour, naturalness is key. Nearly two thirds wish for food and beverages to be free from artificial colourants. In Asia, this is the case with 74 percent. As the survey shows, substituting additive colours in products can enhance their shelf appeal as 36 percent of consumers (47 percent in Asia) would purchase confectionery, yoghurt or ice cream more often if they were made from natural ingredients. Also, 68 percent of consumers, respectively 85 percent in Asia, usually prefer the healthier product option if available.


Trend Towards Clean Label Products


This increasing demand for natural food and beverages has led to a significant rise of so-called “clean-label” products. In spite of the fact that the term is not defined consistently, people consider “clean labels” to guarantee that food and beverages are free from artificial additives and offer a short, understandable ingredient list, which provides precise information about origin and use of these ingredients.

This is especially true for Asian consumers. As they often do not have enough time to engage in detail with foods and their ingredients, more than two thirds consider easy to understand ingredient information and clear nutrition facts on the front of the packaging as essential.

Natural, familiar ingredients ensure a good feeling and have a positive influence on the purchase decision. This can even be enhanced, if manufacturers communicate the naturalness of their products via credible front of pack-claims.

In the course of the survey, the effect of different claims which promote the use of all-natural colour solutions has been examined in more detail: both the claims “with natural colours” and “coloured with fruit and vegetables” are perceived as most credible by more than 75 percent. The claim “coloured with fruit and vegetables” even conveys positive product characteristics such as “is healthy”, “is safe” or “is 100 percent naturally produced” to more than two thirds of consumers.


Claims’ Effects On Shelf Appeal


Choosing the right claim, can further enhance a product’s shelf appeal. In the survey, the strongest impact was caused by the claim “coloured with fruit and vegetables”—a claim explicitly stating the natural ingredients used for colouring, communicating a clear and positive message.

For sweets, there was a significant increase in average uplift of 32 percent, followed by 21 percent for ice cream, 19 percent for soft drinks and 9 percent for yoghurt. Even when a price increase was applied to the product in question, the label significantly enhanced brand preference.

The potential of this claim is particularly strong in Asia, where the vast majority of consumers are strongly concerned about natural products they can easily detect. Here, the average increase in brand preference across all categories was 40 percent, followed by 22 percent in Brazil, 15 percent in Europe and five percent in the US. Although the uplift in brand preference always depends on the specific country, these results clearly underline the potential front-of-pack claims can have on the purchase decision.


Colouring Foods For Colourful, Natural Products


One way to combine an appealing product appearance with consumers’ expectations in respect to natural ingredients is the use of colouring foods. The colour intensive liquid or powder concentrates are obtained exclusively from fruit, vegetables and edible plants. During the production process, only water and gentle physical methods are used. The process itself hardly differs from common household methods: the raw materials are chopped, pressed and filtered. Afterwards, the colour-intensive juices are concentrated. Synthetic additives, chemicals or solvents are strictly excluded from these procedures.

Colouring foods can replace colourants in nearly every product category—from bakery and dairy products to confectionery or beverages—without causing colour differences in the final product or having an impact on taste, texture or “mouth feel”.

Thanks to their high concentration, only a very small amount of a concentrate is needed to impart bright shades to food and beverages. Unlike synthetic colourants, which have to be declared as additives on the ingredient list, colouring foods can for example be labelled as “colouring food (concentrate of grapes, elderberries)” or “concentrates (grapes, elderberries)”. Consumers can instantly see what substances were used to colour the product.


Wide Colour Variety For Every Product


Colouring Foods can come in more than 400 colours—all shades of the rainbow. With those by GNT for instance, the natural colour solutions are fully comparable to additive colours with regard to colour brilliance, stability and shelf life. The company relies on a proprietary mixing procedure to supply manufacturers with every imaginable colour nuance—whether it’s a light pastel or an intensive, bright red.

Using the right colours and the right claims, is essential to catch shoppers’ attention in the supermarket and stand out from the vast variety of products on the market. With colouring foods, this can easily be achieved while also offering products that are in line with today’s consumers’ demand for naturalness.