Color shapes consumer perceptions and drives product success. Maartje Hendrickx, Market Development Manager at GNT Group, explains how plant-based EXBERRY® colors meet rising demand for natural, sustainable products while delivering vibrant hues

Color is key to setting positive first impressions in food and drink. Delivering the right appearance communicates quality, taste, and freshness, influencing perceptions of flavor, sweetness, and overall acceptability. 

In the modern era, color is also now increasingly used to capture shoppers’ attention and send out instinctive signals about product identity. It can add a sense of fun to products through bright shades or unicorn and rainbow themes. It can be used to signal healthy hero ingredients in products such as chamomile candy. Psychedelic and galactic themes can create a sense of adventure and discovery. In many cases, the color simply conforms to expectations to demonstrate that the product will deliver the flavor and quality that the consumer is seeking.

Nonetheless, the messages that color sends out are heavily dependent on context. The signals can differ even if the shade and the product category are the same. A blue carbonated soft drink, for example, might suggest high-intensity flavor innovation; a blue spirulina smoothie, on the other hand, provides a visual signal of the product’s functional benefits. 

It is important for food and beverage brands to use color effectively in both the product and packaging to create the right image for their specific target audience. When developers prioritize color at the beginning of their innovation process, it acts as a north star, ensuring that each product is visually appealing, tells a compelling story, and builds connections with consumers.

Meet evolving consumer demands

Color is crucial to product success, but modern consumers also want food and drink that supports their health as well as the health of the planet. FMCG Gurus’ surveys of global consumers as part of its Top Trends for 2024 report show:

·       74% check ingredient lists on food and drink

·       73% seek out natural food and drink products

·       67% say food, drink, and supplement brands should be doing more to protect the planet

Our plant-based EXBERRY® colors enable brands to deliver the color schemes they need while meeting consumer demand for natural and sustainable products. We offer a comprehensive portfolio of colors made from non-GMO fruits, vegetables, and plants. Our range is available in all formats and with the ability to deliver a complete rainbow of shades in almost any food and drink application. 

We have also made sustainability a key priority, setting out 17 ambitious targets for 2030. These include training all our contract farmers in sustainable agriculture, ensuring at least 75% of our side streams remain food ingredients, and reducing the environmental footprint for EXBERRY® product ranges by 25% over the course of the decade. Our latest sustainability report shows we have achieved a 22% reduction in carbon intensity at our factories since 2020, while 74% of the farmers in our supply chain have achieved a minimum of Farm Sustainability Assessment (FSA) Silver standard. Our approach not only helps brands create sustainable products that will appeal to consumers – it helps ensure we have a futureproof approach that will enable us to deliver EXBERRY® colors for many decades to come.

Support from NPD to regulatory issues

At GNT, we have more than 45 years’ experience using plant-based colors in food and drink. We make it easy to switch to EXBERRY®, providing our customers with complete support through every step of the product development process. 

Our services include color matching, stability testing, and regulatory support. We have the knowledge and experience to identify the optimal color solution for different project requirements at the earliest phase of product development, helping our customers save time and money.

In addition to our technical and regulatory support services, we deliver cutting-edge concept innovation based on our unique market research. Working with everyone from trend analysts to online influencers to semiologists, we identify and anticipate new trends and market developments to help our customers select the most effective colors for their target audience.

Regeneration Rising

Our latest research project shows there has been a significant societal shift toward a deeper appreciation of the natural world and a growing desire to protect and restore the planet. This “Regeneration Rising” era is now having an impact across the food and beverage industry. Consumers of all ages are gravitating toward authentic, purpose-led brands and are driving a more intense focus on the origins of raw materials and sustainable production methods.

The importance of showcasing food and drink’s eco-credentials is also leading brands to adopt new color directions inspired by the natural world. These palettes help to convey messages about how products are created, celebrating the origins of ingredients and communicating their naturality and sustainability.

There are three key Regeneration Rising color directions. “Elevated Earth” involves earthy shades from red-browns and warm oranges to textured purples and inky teals, elevating products with an organic but premium look and feel. “Nature Lab” is about pushing the boundaries of what is considered natural and features a kaleidoscopic spectrum of green, pink, red, yellow, orange, and blue. Finally, “Wholesome Nostalgia” features yellows, greens, blues, peaches, and pinks that range from velvet-like to milky, translucent, muted, and dreamlike.

Colors for a new era

Color can help food and beverage brands create successful products that will establish instant emotional connections with consumers. There is no one-size-fits-all solution: it’s all about sending out the most effective messages for the target audience.

No matter what colors your project requires, our portfolio of natural and sustainable colors can provide the answer. EXBERRY® is a plant-based solution that makes it possible for manufacturers to harness the true power of color and achieve maximum consumer acceptance.

For more information about plant-based EXBERRY® colors and Regeneration Rising, visit www.exberry.com