How colour fits in with food choices

Natural colours are important to 3 out 4 Australian consumers when making a decision on grocery purchases
This was a key finding according to a consumer research study commissioned by global natural colour supplier, Chr. Hansen. This study was undertaken to better understand the role that natural colours play in the decision making process and the attitudes of Australian consumers to ingredients in their food. Eight hundred Australian consumers were surveyed by T-Garage through their online SaySo Community in January 2020.

Consumers are seeking a balanced approach and use short-cuts to help guide them through complexity
The study found that there is a strong movement towards fresh and natural that is driven by consumers trying to make choices that give them more of a balanced approach to health and nutrition. But, there is confusion about what some of the new terms mean (eg. plant based), and how some of the new health trends and movements make sense to them and their families. All of this has led to a feeling of confusion and complexity. Ultimately people want it to be made easy for them to make ‘good’ choices. Consumers are thankful that there are a number of ‘short-cuts’ or proxies that help them in their mission to achieve a more naturally balanced approach to their nutrition. 

Consumers are becoming more engaged with their food, its freshness and impact on their health
There have been a number of changes to influence Australian diets over the past five years. Eating in moderation, watching out for sugar and moving away from overly processed foods are key overarching themes. Closely following these movements is to eating more natural foods, while 69 per cent of consumers state they are paying more attention to ingredients lists.

Natural, local (short-cut for quality and freshness) and a desire for ingredients that are easy to understand are key driving influences when purchasing food & beverages
It is no surprise then to hear that this research found that the use of natural colours and absence of artificial ingredients rated highly in the decision making process. Seventy-five per cent of consumers rated these factors as important.

Emerging changes to callouts on front of pack as consumer becomes more educated
This study found that the familiar call-out “No Artificial Colours” appealed to 81 per cent  with consumers, but among certain demographics and the rise of plant-based foods and increasing prevalence towards vegetarian, or flexitarian, a call-out of “plant-based colours” was strongly welcomed. The research found that once consumers became more educated on the types of colours used by food manufacturers “plant-based colours” soared in appeal compared to other types of colours used.

Colour choice is important across the board
The use of natural colours is rated of higher importance in categories associated with health and every-day, such as in pre-prepared meals and sauces where 69 per cent of consumers stated they were concerned about the types of colour being used. All categories rated above 60 per cent for concern about the types of colour being used. While it would be expected that there may be less concern for colours used in our take-away food, there are still 44 per cent of consumers, or 56 per cent of high achiever consumers who were actively concerned about the colour used in their fast-foods.

Natural colours or Plant-based colours
Depending on  brand positioning, the choice to select natural food colours or the even cleaner label colouring foods is evident. Chr. Hansen is a global leader in the development, manufacture and supply of natural colours and colouring foods with an extensive range of natural colours for all applications in food, beverage and now in pet food and a portfolio of colouring foods under the FruitMax brand for Australian manufacturers. Chr. Hansen also has local sales, marketing, quality and applications support.