The Rainbow Effect: Exploring Colour in 2021

According to Marie Wright, president of creation, design and development and chief global flavourist at ADM, colour plays a vital role in delighting the senses, differentiating flavour expectation and aiding in taste perceptions. It also adds to consumer assessment of the food’s ‘health-halo’ – an aspect that has been thrown into the spotlight this year thanks to COVID-19.

Taste is the primary driver of food purchasing decisions, consistently out-pacing other factors like price, health, convenience, and sustainability. Yet tasty snacks might stay on the shelf and be overlooked by consumers if they don’t offer visual appeal.

Food Psychology

The psychology of flavours and colours has never been more important as consumers are increasingly taking a more proactive approach to nourishing their body and mind.

On one end of the spectrum, citrus flavours and bright colours are uplifting, prompting feelings of happiness and excitement. Mint is also a signalling ingredient, often associated with refreshing and awakening attributes, while blue hues evoke calming feelings, especially when paired with botanicals like lavender and chamomile.

Pair soothing, neutral tones with comforting and familiar flavours like vanilla, chocolate, caramel, coffee, and tea. Vanilla is in particularly high demand as it is a key component of comforting treats such as cakes and pastries.

Trend: Clean Label

Many consumers are avoiding artificial flavours and colours as the select products with clean labels.

Plant-based and naturally sourced colourings can be found around the globe from the huito fruit in Peru’s Amazon region to turmeric from India and elderberry in Europe. Many of these natural colours can allow for desirable label attributes including organic, and clean label claims.

Trend: Health and Immune Boosting

Research shows that 57 percent of global consumers report increased concern about their immune system because of COVID-19, meaning that flavours and colours that signal health and immune function support ill likely gain traction in the coming year.

Orange and other citrus notes are closely associated with vitamin C, turmeric, too, is associated with positive effects on inflammation. Green is a sign of fresh, plant-based ingredients like mint and soybeans, while blueberries and elderberries add eye-catching blue and purple overtones, along with their naturally occurring antioxidants.

Culinary Adventure

People are looking to global flavours for a sense of culinary adventure closer to home with the pandemic continuing to curtail overseas travel.

ADM predicts that consumers will explore beyond their usual palate’s comfort zone in 2021 and anticipate an increased desire for more exotic and unusual flavours such as pink grapefruit, yuzu, kumquat, kaffir lime. Botanicals, edible flowers, and global spices are also likely to grow in popularity in the year ahead.

Creating consumer-preferred products takes a team of experienced professionals, including growers all over the world, food designers, culinary experts, food scientists and production engineers. A rainbow of shades and an array of flavours will wow shoppers in 2021.