Create Cost-Effective Natural Springtime Shades

Bring on Spring!
As consumers seek emotional escapes through familiarity and nostalgia, holidays and seasonal launches can help them reconnect with childhood memories. Valentine’s Day generates over $20 billion in sales in the United States each year, and with 80% of Americans celebrating Easter (Statista 2022), it’s impossible to miss the prevalence of springtime pastels, pinks, and reds across stores.

Mintel data shows that 70% of colored seasonal launches in North America over the last five years used natural color sources, reflecting growing consumer demands for naturalness, transparency, and clean labels. For spring, occasions like Easter, Valentine’s Day, and even St. Patrick’s Day offer brands many colorful opportunities to innovate!




Over the past five years, bakery and confections combine for over half of all seasonal launches (Mintel 2022). Let’s explore some natural color solutions to achieve shades that connect to seasonal spring themes in these applications:


Icings, Frostings, Coatings, and Morsels

Icings, frostings, and coatings are a common choice for baked goods or coated confections embracing a seasonal theme. Developers can use synthetic lakes to incorporate color into oil-soluble applications like a fat-based coating or morsel, or they can reach for a Microfine™. Sensient’s Microfine™ technology was developed to allow naturally water-soluble colors to fully incorporate into oil-based applications while mitigating common challenges like bleed and specking.

A full rainbow of Microfine™ solutions is available to achieve any shade in these applications. For popular pinks and reds, anthocyanin- and beet-based Microfine™ solutions are available depending on the target shade. Pastel colors can be achieved with cost-effective low concentrations.

Similarly, our Microfine™ library includes yellow and blue solutions to form the building blocks of pastel spring shades. Blends extend the shade range to include any purple, green, or even orange pastel needed for your product’s profile.

Icings or frostings that are water-based rather than oil-based have the added option of incorporating water-soluble colors in directly as liquids or as powders depending on your processing requirements.

For those creating products for brands or retailers with restrictive ingredient lists, we have also launched our Simplifine™ line, an extension of our Microfine™ technology that is entirely preservative-free and replaces maltodextrin with clean carriers. The same seasonal shades are available with this “extra clean label” option.

Break ‘n Bake Cookie Dough and Fresh or Packaged Bakery Items

For refrigerated cookie dough and finished baked goods, the most important consideration is ensuring that the color represented in the uncooked dough is heat-stable enough to survive the baking process. Heat processes affect natural color sources in different ways, but your color partner can guide you through the selection.

To achieve pastel pinks, a heat-stable red source like carmine at a relatively low concentration offers a beautiful pink hue. If your brand is looking for a plant-based, non-allergen option, an advanced color technology like SupraRed™ or an optimized botanical like Magna Ruby will offer similar shades. These same solutions can be used at higher concentrations to give bright pinks and deep reds for Valentine’s themed launches.

For a pastel yellow, our experts will recommend cost-effective low concentrations of heat-stable natural yellows like turmeric and beta carotene.

Sensient’s proprietary natural blue vegetable is heat-stable
and will offer springtime pastel blues on its own at low concentrations. In blends with natural yellow or red solutions, greens and purples can be achieved as well.

Gummy Confections and Fruit Snacks

For 2021, IRI data shows that seasonal spring candy launches had higher dollar sales and unit sales than LTO candy for Christmas and Halloween combined. To bring those shades to life, let’s look at some cost-effective natural solutions.

Gummy confections and fruit snacks can bring a range of pink and red Valentine’s hues to life with extremely cost-effective natural solutions like black carrot juice and other fruit and vegetable juices.

For other pastel shades in confections, Sensient’s Marine Blue can be a key component as a stable spirulina-based sky-blue solution. With the FDA approval of butterfly pea flower extract, we have an added single-component natural blue for denim shades. From blue, blends with natural pinks and reds create springtime purples. Depending on the pH of your base, butterfly pea flower extract may also create a stable, single-component purple hue.

Adding natural solutions like yellow beet, beta carotene, and annatto to the mix brings in yellow shades as well. Going back to blends, combining natural blue and yellow of course makes green to round out our springtime rainbow.

To brighten the base of a gummy or fruit snack, a clean label whitening solution like Avalanche™ can be used to add opacity and add pastel notes to these bold colors.

Panned Confections

For panned confections, there are so many potential natural
solutions available that we have an entire blog dedicated to this broad rainbow. For Valentine’s reds, the most cost-effective solutions are typically going to include iron oxides or carmine. For a cleaner label, look to Pure-S™ for a bright, bold red. Pinks can come from these same sources at lower concentrations, or even a clean-label, cost-effective beet solution.

Pastel yellows can be achieved with solutions like iron oxide, yellow beet, beta carotene, or turmeric. For natural blue hues, we typically look to spirulina for bright sky blues, but pH-adjusted anthocyanin may be more cost-effective depending on your project and parameters. These yellows and blues blended together create fresh spring greens.

Combining natural blues and reds offers natural purple blends, but single component solutions like blue carmine and anthocyanins are also available for formulation efficiency.

To create an even, bright white panning base for these shades, Sensient offers Avalanche™ systems dedicated specifically to panning applications and the unique processes involved. This helps ensure that the truest, cleanest colors come through, especially when working with light shades light pastels.


If you’re ready to get started on spring LTOs for next year, request a sample of the pink, red, or pastel natural seasonal color solution that caught your eye here. If you still need inspiration or advice, reach out for a consultation—my team loves to help on these projects!

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