Color Solutions for Plant-Based Meat Alternatives

Plant-Based Expectations are Growing

Only 35% of consumers think that plant-based alternatives taste as good as the traditional meat options they replace (Mintel 2022). Improving taste to appeal to more consumers is a multi-faceted effort. Taste is a multi-sensory sensation combining perceived flavor, visual aesthetics, scent, mouthfeel, and more.

Optimized color improves flavor perception in plant-based meat

Sensient Consumer Research 2019-2022

Developers looking to improve taste can look to optimized, flavor-appropriate color solutions for specific target visuals.

Developers Creating Next-Gen Plant-Based Proteins Need to Keep Multiple Factors in Mind

Developers working on new or renovated plant-based proteins have a lot to think about, including color solution performance. A few of the most prominent factors for color are heat stability, labeling, and target shade.

While color suppliers have long been striving toward increasingly stable natural color solutions, in the case of plant-based proteins a color shift under heat processing can be a good thing, showing a change from a “raw” visual to a “cooked” one. Sensient’s color experts work every day to leverage their deep knowledge of color sources like beet to meet specific formulation needs.

Labeling is also a key consideration for plant-based products. If a developer is seeking to claim “organic” or “made in USA”, it’s important for ingredient suppliers like Sensient to know at the beginning of the development process so we can provide solutions that fit those restrictions.

The target shade of a product is critical to understand, and efficient formulation depends on understanding how to work with the base shade of the product to achieve a specific visual. The difference between a medium burger and a well-done plant-based burger could be wholly different color solutions.

Plant-Based Color Solutions Create Next-Level Visuals for Plant-Based Meat Alternatives

Natural Pink Solutions

From raw chicken to cooked shrimp, many raw meats are shades of pink, and some keep pink hues through a cooking process. Standard beet solutions lack the heat stability of advanced these solutions and can be a great choice for products desiring a color change with heat. Beet-based solutions from Sensient’s UberBeet™ portfolio, like Magna Ruby and SupraRed™, can be used for heat-stable pink..

Sample Natural Pink Solutions

Natural Red Solutions

Deeper shades of red perfectly represent proteins like bacon, salami, and raw beef. Highly concentrated beet solutions like SupraRed™ can achieve this appearance without impacting the texture or flavor profile.

Sample Natural Red Solutions

Natural Brown Solutions

Brown is arguably the “default” shade of cooked meat, from seared steaks to baked chicken. Sensient’s Sienna™ fruit juice and blends offer caramel-free heat-stable brown shades from warm tan to darker shades reminiscent of a grilled or seared aesthetic. Heat-stable natural blue solutions within Sensient’s portfolio can be used to add gray notes to cooked proteins like beef analogues.

Sample Natural Brown Solutions

Natural Orange Solutions

Orange is an important visual cue for raw salmon and many spicy flavors in breadings or sausages. Natural color solutions like annatto and paprika can be leveraged to create bold visuals that match animal proteins.

Sample Natural Orange Solutions

Natural Yellow Solutions

For yellow shades in flavored chicken dishes like curry or egg products like omelets and sushi, natural color solutions like turmeric and beta carotene can help developers mimic traditional meat appearances.

Sample Natural Yellow Solutions

Natural White Solutions

White is an important shade for plant-based proteins replacing cooked chicken, cooked pork, and raw OR cooked fish like cod or halibut. Sensient’s Avalanche™ portfolio offers a wide range of natural white color solutions tailored perform in any application.

Sample Natural White Solutions

Learn more about formulating with color in plant-based protein by clicking these icons to view relevant blogs and webinars:

Whether your next plant-based project is improving the next generation of vegan burgers or launching a unique plant-based seafood item, Sensient’s team of color experts is here to help. Get your questions answered and samples for your benchwork today!

Related Posts