Food In Canada

Consumers want more natural colours and less sugar

By Food in Canada magazine staff   

Business Operations Food Trends

Two recent studies from market and food research firms find that consumers want cleaner labels when it comes to food products

Chicago – Two recent studies have found that consumers want less sugar and prefer natural colours over artificial/synthetic colours in the foods they eat.

Market research firm, Mintel, says its recent study found that consumers are avoiding sugar and added sugar more than any other ingredient.

But, the company adds, while its research indicates consumers care about how much sweetener is used in food and beverage products, they don’t necessarily care about specific types.

Mintel surveyed consumers about high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in each of the 12 highest-volume food and beverage categories:


• Fresh/packaged bread;
• Carbonated beverages/pop/soda;
• Ketchup;
• Cakes/cookies/pastries;
• Cold cereals;
• Fruit juice;
• Chocolate milk;
• Jams and jellies;
• Sports drinks;
• Spaghetti sauce;
• Yogurt and yogurt drinks; and
• Salad dressing.

Mintel’s study found that fresh/packaged bread topped the list of categories with 2.7 per cent of consumers concerned about HFCS; salad dressing is the category of least concern at 0.7 per cent.

The Corn Refiners Association commissioned this study.

Going natural is going global

When it comes to the food colours market, Mintel and U.K.-based Leatherhead Food Research found that for the first time the value of natural colours has overtaken that of artificial/synthetic colours globally.

In 2011, global sales of natural colours amounted to an estimated US$600 million, up by almost 29 per cent from 2007 and demonstrating annual growth in excess of seven per cent.

The share of the total food colours market taken by natural varieties has increased from just more than a third in 2007 to nearly 39 per cent in 2011.

In contrast, growth within the artificial/synthetic colours market has been more modest, with value sales increasing by less than four per cent between 2007 and 2011.

But the segment is now worth an estimated US$570 million, which is equivalent to 37 per cent of the overall market (compared to 40 per cent in 2007).

The food industry alone accounts for a 70 per cent share of the natural food colours market compared to 27 per cent for soft drinks and just three per cent for alcoholic beverages, according to the Mintel and Leatherhead Food Research report.

Natural colours in more new launches

Furthermore, according to the research, the use of natural colours in new launches of food and drinks outweighs the use of artificial/synthetic colours by 2:1 on a global basis.

The report also highlights significant differences between regions in their migration to the use of natural colours.

Europe has moved strongly towards the use of more natural colours, and leads the way globally, overall using them in 85 per cent of new product launches between 2009 and 2011.

Overall, the global market for food colours was worth an estimated US$1.55 billion in 2011. This represents growth of 13 per cent from 2007.

However, while developing, average annual growth levels currently lie between two per cent and three per cent, down from the four per cent to five per cent experienced throughout most of the previous decade.

“Much of this slowdown in growth can be attributed to the global economic recession, and its subsequent effect on consumer expenditure on many sectors of the global food and drinks industry, as well as the continued decline in demand for artificial/synthetic food colourings,” says Chris Brockman, senior Global Food and Drink Analyst at Mintel.

The report predicts that the trend toward greater use of natural colours will continue, especially within premium food and drink segments and in products positioned for children.

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