Beverage trends: Flavor is in the eye of the beholder

This is an article published in the February ,2017 issue of Food Business News.
by Donna Berry

Imagine a world without color. Now think about how a sunny, blue sky motivates while a gloomy gray day may make you yawn. Consumers identify with colors every day, with many having learned responses and expectations to specific hues.

When it comes to beverages, consumers typically associate specific colors with flavor expectations. Lime should be green, while lemon is yellow. Orange is orange, or maybe not. A blood orange beverage will have a reddish shade while mandarin skews yellow.

Color influences not only the perception of taste, but quality and preference, too. Color psychology plays a role in an individual’s instinctual response to a product. For example, the color yellow is associated with increasing energy, while white, such as milk, may have a calming effect. Such clear beverages as water suggest a cool, refreshing experience. This is why it is paramount for beverage manufacturers to consider color as much as they deliberate flavor and nutrition platforms when developing new products.

“Clear, fruit-based beverages with added protein, minerals or vitamins are often quite challenging to color,” said Brian Sethness, executive vice-president of sales and marketing, Sethness Products Co., Skokie, Ill. “When caramel color is added to enhance the final color, there is the possibly of a haze forming due to the many interactions. Similar to colas, the type of acid used must be taken into consideration, as there may be a solubility issue with the acid and any class of caramel color. The solution can be as simple as changing the order of addition.”

When it comes to caramel color, Mr. Sethness said a growing number of companies are attempting to use Class I, or plain caramel colors, which do not allow for ammonia and/or sulfites during manufacture, to color various beverages. There’s also growing interest in non-genetically modified caramel colors.

“We now produce 12 Non-G.M.O. Project verified caramel colors,” Mr. Sethness said. “These are more expensive offerings than our typical caramel colors, but appeal to those consumers looking for products void of genetically engineered components.”

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