Are Natural Colors Actually Less Stable than Artificial Colors?

According to 2017 Mintel data, 78% of new products launched in North America use color from natural sources.

This number has been steadily rising over the last few years; in fact, it’s up 44% from 2013. The increase is largely driven by consumer demand, and most brands are responding with new products or product formulations that incorporate natural colors and other natural ingredients.

While cleaner formulations can potentially deliver market share gain and commercial success if executed well, some recent consumer research conducted by Sensient definitively concludes sacrificing on color vibrancy might actually hurt a brand more than doing nothing.

What were the major findings?

Consumers’ perception of product “taste” is greatly affected by the visual appearance.

A Sensient study conducted with 1,632 consumers this fall showed a clear positive correlation between color shade vibrancy and taste expectations. More than any other attribute, taste expectation drives consumer liking, so this is an important correlation.

Brands should aggressively communicate the natural ingredient story as consumer awareness of change can be limited.

On-pack claims by themselves may not be enough. Our research showed that consumers often miss simple claims. A natural ingredient story needs to be communicated across consumer touchpoints.

Most notably, our research concluded consumer purchase intent grew as color vibrancy increased.

Obviously the reverse is also true. Consumers believe products with more vibrant color will taste better, have superior sweetness, and are more attractive. Brighter color lifted purchase intent scores by almost 6% across eight different products; this type of difference could mean tens of millions of dollars in larger categories.

So while it is clear that better color means stronger sales, from a developer’s perspective, there are a number of concerns when formulating with natural color. An extremely common question received about natural color is about their stability. Specifically, are they stable? Are they less stable than synthetics?


As you learned from the video, the stability of natural color isn’t really an issue if you are starting with the right solution. A robust portfolio of natural color solutions and innovations can tackle most stability challenges for product developers today.

Are you enduring any challenges when formulating with natural food color? My team and I are always here to offer support. You can request a consultation with us at any time here.


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