Coloring foods especially for kids
Colors are a powerful motivator for young consumers, but you should paint their foods naturally.
By Kantha Shelke, Ingredients Editor
Armed with a fantastic palette of natural colorants, food manufacturers are attracting young consumers to try more healthful foods. The wellness implications of these plant-derived, good-for-you colorants appeal to parents, and many of the natural colorants also do a nice job of adding flavor for the young consumers.
Despite the fact that color is the first and probably the most important attribute influencing children’s selection of foods, it is usually one of the last ingredients taken into consideration when formulating foods. Color is a critical factor for consumers of all ages. Color differentiates one product from another and sets the consumer’s expectation of how the product will taste.
|NOTE TO PLANT OPS|
Formulation with natural colorants is tricky business and should take into consideration all the steps involved in processing. Critical factors include pH, range of temperature, exposure to light, kosher status, regulatory restrictions and labeling requirements.
If dust and resulting cross-contamination is a major issue in your plant, ask your vendor for agglomerated colorants. Another option is to get a liquid version.
Inaccurate weighing and color mistakes, especially with dyes with high tinctorial strength, can be avoided by employing blends customized to the desired shade. Leave to your color supplier the responsibility of making the color blend accurately so just a single addition is necessary.
Finally, remember to factor in what will happen to the product after it leaves your plant. Light infiltration and temperature fluctuations can greatly impact the final color of your product, so carefully consider packaging, both material and the package’s shape.
Throughout the 20th century, food processors believed consumers wanted cheap food, and that added ingredients (harmful as they might be) made foods look and taste better. They also believed (as all parents want to, even though they know better) that children will eat whatever they’re told to eat.
The food manufacturing scene of this century has evolved into one focused on creating food products loaded with natural goodness that look and taste delicious. Such products should tempt children without parental threats.
There’s good reason to pay attention to the underage consumer, specifically children under 12 years old. Parents might be gatekeepers, but children ages 12 and under tend to be very involved with food and beverage purchase decisions. The 41 million or so 5- to 12-year-olds annually account for $10 billion in sales of foods and beverages in the U.S. Ethical issues make marketing to them rather challenging, and formulating foods products for them can prove to be complex. This is where the new generation of natural food colorants comes in. Wild colors from nature laden with flavor and goodness are the key to successfully garnering young consumers â¦ as well as support from their parents. Keep it natural
Over the ages humans have come to rely on color as an integral part of how and why they select foods. Children, for example associate red hues with strawberry ice cream and smoothies. In practice, however, these foods are pale in color and require additional coloring to restore hues mellowed by the addition of ingredients such as milk and yogurt. The resulting vibrantly colored food has more eye appeal.
But, whenever possible, use natural colors to achieve these ends. Natural colors can provide certain hues that one simply cannot get with artificial colors. It also has helped that natural colorants are not as expensive as they used to be.
The natural color business has evolved considerably in the recent decade in the U.S. â primarily because of consumer demand for good-looking food products and secondarily because of the rapid growth of organic and natural food stores. Retailers such as Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Wild Oats do not allow artificial colors in their fare and have driven food manufacturers to innovate with natural colors if they wish to compete in the higher-margin natural food arena.
|Children are naturally fascinated by colorful foods and fun names. No wonder foods such as Man Goes Blueberry from Happy Planet win over plain orange juice or lemonade. |
At the same time, children’s diet and health have become critical issues in the U.S. And the children’s food niche has become an identifiable and profitable market for certain food marketers.
The market for natural food color is growing twice as rapidly as the market for artificial food color. Health-conscious consumers and parents of young children are demanding natural and healthy alternatives to artificial dyes. While there still are no naturally found extreme colors or neon colors, there are many vibrant new colorants being derived from plants today. Some of these sources and their applications include: Fruit juices:
Not only are colors from fruit sources natural, they can add some health benefits of their own. Candy manufacturers, in particular, view these natural hues as a way to enhance the profile of candies and gummy confectionery. Plus they can meet certain claims such as “contains all fruit juice” or “fruit juice for color.”
Vancouver-based juicery Happy Planet (www.happyplanet.com
) employs colorful fruits to avoid added colors. Colorful fruits and clever names such as Man Goes Blueberry and Lulu Island Blackberry allow for fun and brightly colored tongues in concert with significant health and wellness implications.