Which Comes First, Flavor or Color?

Sep 20, 2022Beverages, Nutrition, Savory, Snacks, Sweet Goods & Dairy

With the rise of social media, “share-worthy” food experiences are more important than ever. To satisfy consumers, foods and beverages not only have to taste good, but they also have to deliver multi-sensory food experiences. Consumers now expect food and drinks with vibrant colors, indulgent and unexpected flavors, various shapes and textures and other elements that are sure to increase the “likes” on a post.  Overarching this desire is the demand to deliver this experience with clean-label natural flavor and colors. We discuss this food revolution in our white paper, “Cleaner, Better, Trendier – Natural Colours at the Heart of the Food Experience Revolution”, you can download it here to learn more about these trends and how our Sense Colour natural solutions can help you meet consumer expectations

In a previous MarketBites post, “Same Difference: Plant and Animal Based Meats” I posed the question, which of our senses drives our food selection decision? The sound of a burger sizzling? The smell of freshly baked bread? Vibrant colors of fresh produce in a chopped salad? The known indulgent taste of dark chocolate bars? I can save you the anticipation of the answer and tell you that no one knows for sure! It is very specific to each individual. But, what we can agree on is that no one will enjoy eating something that does not both look and taste good! This undisputed fact tends to leave product developers with the question, “Where do I start? Flavor or Color?”

Flavor First? Color First?

When developing a new beverage, do you start with targeting a flavor or the color? There are many factors that will determine your starting point, but in many cases, it simply does not matter! The innovations in natural colors and natural flavors have solved many of the formulation challenges that were once top of mind of developers. Drawing on our in-house expertise, Givaudan’s wide range of solutions delivers an entire rainbow of naturally sourced solutions that are backed by extensive consumer research. Our combined expertise in color and taste allows us to have all the tools you need to create unforgettable multi-sensory food experiences. Want a vibrant strawberry flavor beverage? We have a large palette of red and pink colors that have been tested for stability with our range of strawberry flavors. Have you decided that you want to develop a citrus beverage? Great! We have a wide variety of orange and yellow colors that work well with flavor emulsions.

If Not Flavor or Color, Then What?

Color and flavor connection has always been a “thing”. There are certain assumptions we can make that are long withstanding, such as banana flavor = yellow color. But, what about the not-so-obvious? Is a berry flavor associated with blue, purple, red? and even deeper, what shade (color intensity) of blue, red or purple? It can get even trickier with flavors such has habanero – is it red, yellow, or orange?

In fact, at Givaudan, we can take it a step further and start with the question, “When a person drinks this beverage/consumes this food, how do we want them to feel? Is it happy? Satisfied? Adventurous? Healthy? Starting with this question is at the heart of what we call the “Food Revolution” and how together, with our customers, we can co-create a food experience that builds connections with consumers. We can provide you with a consumer-researched flavor and color that is proven to be linked with a certain mood or emotion. Take our habanero example, let’s say you wanted to develop a habanero salsa. You could start with the question when someone scoops up the salsa what emotion do we want to invoke? Indulgent? If so, we would choose our Vegebrite Black Carrot red color versus our Vegebrite Canary yellow color.

To learn more about flavor and color connection, reach out to me, RoJenia, or schedule a 15 min timeslot to chat!

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