Color plays a significant role in how we choose our food. It’s often the first element consumers notice in a food product’s appearance. Many studies suggest that visual taste perception begins in infancy and increases as we age. For example, if something is bright red, we might assume it will taste like cherry or cinnamon. If something is colored green, we might expect that food product to taste like lime or apple. And when it comes to produce, we rely on color to determine freshness.
So, aside from expected taste, what else do colors mean when it comes to food?
Red – Appetizing: According to research, red is eye-catching and triggers appetite. It’s useful for packaging design. This is likely because the color indicates ripeness or sweetness when found in natural foods like berries.
Blue – Instagram-able: While blue is typically the first color to disappear from a child’s crayon box, it’s the last man standing in the M&M bowl. Why? Because edible blue foods are rare in nature. However, they exist, including blue butterfly pea flower, blue carrots, and concord blue grapes. It’s unclear why blue foods are rare, but some research has indicated that they’re appetite suppressants.
Yellow – Happiness: Consumers see yellow as the happiest color, and brands incorporate it in various products. As such, yellow tends to evoke optimism and general good feelings. However, there are speculations and disagreements regarding the artificial color of yellow in food products.
Green – Natural/Healthy: With sustainability and organic being at the top of mind for many consumers, green is making its way to becoming one of the more popular colors in the food supply chain (think green juice). The color green is now almost synonymous with health and well-being when it comes to food.
Orange – Satisfying/Energizing: Orange foods are typically associated with autumnal traditions in the west, including pumpkin products, squash, and candy corn. However, orange is vibrant, with orange and carrot juice linked to vitality year-round.