Natural Colour for Topical Seasonings and Dry-Blend Applications

Activity is Hot in Salty Snacks and Topical Seasonings

Consumers are spending more time in transit as part of their daily routine. This results in a decrease in mealtimes eaten at home and an increasing number of occasions where consumers eat out-of-home and snack. According to the latest Mintel trend reports, snacking booms as a result. “Any time is snack time, and everything is a snack.” (Source: Mintel Reports, 03/2019). In turn, convenience and portability has product innovation heating up, especially in snacking offers. The variety in snacking products is manifold, and competition to become part of consumers’ shopping baskets is increasing. Innovations will thus need to stand out in the sea of competitive offerings to be noticed.


Whilst consumers love to try new snacks within their crisps and savoury snacks repertoire, they do enjoy familiar flavours. When purchasing new products, they are more inclined to try known flavours with a twist vs. highly unusual flavours they may not be familiar with:

“55% of UK salty snacks eaters prefer to try new flavours that are similar to the ones they know, over more unusual flavours.”
Source: Mintel Reports, “A year of innovation in salty snacks & fruit mixes, 2019”)

In that environment, seasonings and the according colouring of the final snack product play a crucial role. Having conducted consumer testing to gain a deeper understanding of the importance of colouring in savoury applications, key insights include:

  • The colour of crisps is an important driver of product appeal and product associations
  • Colour intensity raised consumers’ impression of a more appetizing and higher quality product
  • Colour intensity raised consumers’ impression of a more of tasty and flavourful product – ‘right’ level of taste

This should influence activity in seasonings where new product development is not only pertaining to packet seasonings but also many savoury offerings like puffed snacks and crisps that are coated in seasonings.


Colour plays a critical part in seasonings by bringing all of the different flavour offerings to life through unique shades. One would expect a hot and spicy snack to look different than a cheesy one. Colour helps create the expectation of a flavour’s visual appeal in seasonings.Cheese Doodles Since flavours with an exotic twist or an adventurous touch are a strong driver for the salty snack category, the expectation to see custom colouring shades rises accordingly. This underlying interest for a natural, yet visually appealing snack could be a huge opportunity for snack and seasonings developers. There is certainly room for growth in snacks, especially those combining on-the-go convenience, natural ingredients like colour from plant-based sources, and flavour innovation.

Clean Label Colour for Topical Seasonings and Dry-Blend Applications

Traditionally, achieving attractive and bright shades in topical seasonings has never been a factor for food scientists and developers working with Lakes. The way a Lake is developed by extending the dye onto an aluminium hydrate substrate makes it ideal for plating grade applications like seasonings or dry mixes. The particle size of the powder helps the Lake evenly coat the topical seasoning, making application to products like chips or popcorn that contain oil/fat more uniform.

When formulating with colouring foods or natural colouring solutions, product developers should take a few factors into consideration:



of the colouring solution has a direct impact upon the coating distribution



rate to achieve a desired shade may impact the flavour profile of the seasoning



can affect the colouring solution’s stabililty and can cause migration



may cause colour degradation or shade shifting depending on the source of the natural colouring solution

Big Orange Dust
The Microfine™ technology is Sensient’s innovative solution unique to topical seasonings or dry blend processing applications. The Microfine™ technology is an aluminium-free line of colouring foods and natural colours that simulate the plating properties of synthetic Lakes. This advanced natural colour solution uniformly blends in topical seasonings and coats dry products with an evenly distributed colour for best impact. The Microfine’s plating grade capability delivers superb visual appeal and intense colour shades, reducing the need for high dosage rates.

If you want your brand to show differentiated product offerings, and if you have a new project in mind to focus on product impact for your next snacking innovation, request a consultation or a sample with us today:

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