Should brands take cues from trendy hues?

Posted by Lani Thorpe on 11th July 2018

WE are used to the concept of adopting colour trends in fashion, beauty and home décor. But how much influence does colour have on the production of new food and drink?

‘Millennial pink’: you’ve seen it everywhere. Officially becoming a trend somewhere around 2016-17, it’s managed to maintain popularity long enough to permeate even the food and beverage industry.

And thanks to millennials’ love of the shade, sales of rose wine have been steadily on the rise.

It makes sense, then, that food producers are maximising consumer appeal with some clever colour choices.

How to take advantage of colour trends

Also in this edition of Australian Food News

But as the industry follows popular demand and moves away from colour and flavour additives, how can we best take advantage of colour trends?

One answer: embrace au naturel. Beverage companies are finding ways to create drinks that make use of existing flavours with subtle hints and tints.

Fever-Tree, a British beverage manufacturer, has just launched a blush-tinged mixer that gets its colour from natural flavours of angostura bark.

Similarly, Aussie start-up Soda Press Co sells its line of all-natural soda syrups with flavours like raspberry and mint, and even a ‘blonde cola’ — blonde because, as the company claims, it “left all the nasty stuff out”.

Meanwhile, Scottish whisky distillery Bruichladdich promotes its Laddie Classic Unpeated Whisky rather poetically as having the colour of “sunlight on fields of early summer barley”, without artificial colouring, of course.

Worth thinking outside the box in terms of colour

But it may be worth thinking outside the box in terms of colour, too.

Vanessa Brancatisano, RMIT lecturer in consumer psychology, says when it comes to younger generations like millennials, fads that attract attention are especially appealing — particularly in this current climate where everything is Instagrammed.

“The more left of centre the colouring is for a product, the more intrigue and interest these consumers have — for example, you can now get black hamburger buns.

Then there’s the rainbow fad, like ‘unicorn’-coloured toasted cheese sandwiches. It delivers an alternative taste experience,” she says.

“There’s been a lot of research on the effect of colour in food which suggests that colour can actually alter our perception of what food tastes like up to 20-30%,” Vanessa says.

Rainbows, unicorns, black burger buns but not blue

So, food producers should consider colour as seriously as taste, but not be afraid to push boundaries. Just perhaps stay away from blue …

“Blue is said to reduce our ability to discover the differences in food flavours and for this reason attracts us far less,” says Vanessa. “It can actually make food very displeasing.”