Natural Colors & Flavors Take Over, Says Mintel
Since the color of a food product is often the first sensory reaction a consumer has, and flavor is what keeps customers buying, it is obvious why these two food ingredients are key to successful product development. But the fact that consumers are increasingly looking for more natural products and are wary of anything processed means that the use of natural colors and flavors is on the rise. In fact, according to Mintel’s “Colors & Flavors” presentation on Monday, July 15, 47% of U.S. consumers prefer to eat foods without any artificial additives.
According to Lynn Dornblaser, Director of Innovation & Insight at Mintel, “suitable for” claims—such as reduced allergen and gluten-free—have taken the lead. But natural claims remain strong and continue to grow. David Jago, Director of Trends and Innovation at Mintel, explained that natural colors experienced 77% growth between 2009 and 2013 in the United States, while natural flavors had a 132% increase during the same time period.
“Europe is taking the lead in the switch to natural colors,” said Jago. In fact, 85% of the new product introductions in Europe use natural colors, while in the U.S. it’s only 33%. Especially when it comes to confectionery, where bright vivid colors dominate, the use of artificial colors dominates in the U.S. For Europe, consumers are demanding natural even in their confectionery. For example, Perfetti Von Melle’s Fruit-tella UFOs even have a front-of-pack label advertising that it contains only natural colors.
For flavors, both the U.S. and Europe have seen a 150% growth in naturals from 2009 to 2013. But, as with colors, artificial flavors are almost entirely absent in Europe. However, this is beginning to change. “The degree to which natural flavors are showing up in big name brand products signifies a shift,” said Dornblaser. Multinational companies no longer want to formulate products just for specific markets, so as they engage in natural formulation for Europe (for example) they are going to formulate naturally for all markets. For example, in the United States Frito-Lay’s Tostitos Artisan Recipes chips are all natural with no artificial flavors. In addition, Campbell’s rebranded their Select Harvest soup to 100% Natural Soup to clearly indicate to consumers that the product is natural and free from artificial ingredients.
To conclude the presentation, Jago warned attendees to keep an eye on the regulatory scene. “Under pressure from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration may require front label disclosure of any color additive,” said Jago.