A Clean Ingredient Opacity Solution for Soups, Sauces, and Dressings

Today’s food developers face more challenges than ever before with formulations, particularly when tasked with renovating traditional recipes to meet the demands of today’s consumers. More often than not, these product renovations involve swapping out negatively perceived ingredients with cleaner alternatives. These type of changes to recipes can be extremely rewarding. It shows a brand’s understanding of what consumers are really looking for in their everyday food and drink and helps build trust between the brand and consumer.


Kraft’s Macaroni and Cheese is a perfect example. In 2015, they conducted one of the biggest blind taste test when they replaced artificial ingredients with natural alternatives in their infamous blue box recipe. The clean label conversion was made public by their “It’s Changed But It Hasn’t Changed” marketing campaign months later. The numbers alone speak to consumers’ liking of the renovated Kraft product. Not only did the Kraft Original Macaroni & Cheese product grow by 11% according to 2016 Information Resources Inc. (IRI) data, but it also brought new consumers and more volume to the dry macaroni and cheese category. A great overall news story, stemming directly from a natural conversion. Other categories can certainly learn from the success of Kraft’s reformulation.

From a Color R&D’s perspective, I believe one area that contributed to Kraft’s overall success was their lack of compromise on visual appearance. Kraft replaced Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 with a natural blend of Paprika, Annatto and Tumeric for color. Although the brand switched to natural colors, the appearance was not consumer detectable. This is an important takeaway for legacy brands as they reformulate traditional recipes or look to innovate familiar products.

“Brands looking to renovate their products should not sacrifice its overall look, because color can greatly impact taste perception.”

At Sensient, we predict Kraft’s ongoing victory will inspire more renovation across the middle grocery aisles. On that note, I wanted to share a good strategy for some other dry goods looking for consumer-friendly color options.


Clean label conversions present exciting opportunities for brands seeking to boost their image. They also enable brands to completely overturn categories like Kraft did with their dry macaroni and cheese mix. Recognizable ingredients like vegetable juices and botanicals for color can give soup, sauce, and dressing brands the added confidence for clean-label positioning, while still maintaining the familiar look and mouthfeel expected by consumers.

“The key to clean label is conversion without compromise.”Tweet the quote above.

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