The Psychology of Food Color
Color is the single most important product-intrinsic sensory cue when it comes to setting people’s expectations regarding the likely taste and flavour of food and drink. It has been shown that changing the hue or intensity/saturation of the color of food and beverage items can exert a sometimes dramatic impact on the expectations, and hence on the subsequent experiences, of consumers. As the spokesperson for the Institute of Food Technologists put it a few years ago: “Color creates a psychological expectation for a certain flavour that is often impossible to dislodge”.
Food coloring can modulate certain of our food-related behaviours. Certainly getting the color right can play an important role in food acceptance, liking, and hence, ultimately, food intake. Color can play an important role in modulating a consumer’s affective expectation. It has been shown that people will consume more candy if it comes in a variety of colors than if presented in just a single color.
Color has always had an important implication on the minds of people as far as food is concerned. Cuisines prepared in attractive colors have immensely lured people in all the quarters of the world. It is therefore very necessary to preserve the natural or maintain the characteristic color of a food product while it is manufactured or stored for future use. A non-attractive color however makes the food look unfresh and is likely to be rejected.
The color of food is a significant factor in determining its acceptance. We expect to see food looking natural. Many consumers associate natural products with superior quality and a good, natural looking color in a food or beverage will signal high quality, while a washed out or artificially bright product can give the opposite impression.
Natural appearance is appetizing. We become cautious when a food shows an unexpected color, interpreting it as a possible sign of spoilage or poor processing.
The contribution to the appearance and attractiveness of foods is paramount, partly because we expect foods to have their own characteristic appearance including color and partly because color is important in the perception of flavour. We can say that color can label flavour type. In prepared foods deriving from nature we expect the color to be associated with the flavour so that asparagus soup should be green and raspberry ice-cream is expected to be red.
Adding colors to food is also important to offset the color loss due to light, air, extreme temperature, moisture and processing of food.
Color can also assist in the use or measurement of products. It indicates whether the ingredients have been properly mixed or not like in cake batter.
It is also important to provide a colorful appearance to certain “Fun Food” to attract consumers especially children. Candies are colored to create a festive appearance.