As North American consumers have become more and more aware of the issues related to having unnecessary and unhealthy chemical additives in their food, the natural food movement has rallied people from all walks of life around the cause of eating a less processed, healthier diet.
This has led to a corresponding shift in food production away from the heavily packaged, heavily processed foods that became ubiquitous in the late twentieth century and toward products marketed as more natural alternatives.
While the success of the natural food movement has spawned numerous other trends in eating, such as eating organic, the local food movement, and the sustainable food movement, that have had a major impact on how consumers purchase food and how producers market it, it has not been without its challenges.
One basic problem is that however much consumers may say that they want to cultivate a healthy, natural diet, their expectations around food have in many ways been conditioned by a lifetime of eating products that rely on a range of chemical agents and preservatives.
Food producers are caught in the position of needing to offer their customers products that contain few if any chemical additives, while also meeting their expectations when it comes to look, taste, and mouthfeel.
The extent of this challenge can perhaps most starkly be seen in the case of food colouring. Over the past three generations, North Americans have become used to brightly coloured foods, but many of the colours that give distinctive products their recognizable shades are the product of chemical dyes that many consumers are now becoming wary of — for example, popular baked goods like rainbow cakes and colourful macaron cookies.
Companies are put in the difficult position of needing to decide whether or not to change their product’s colour and potentially alienate their customer base, or to try to find natural ways of closely reproducing their distinctive colours.
Changing suppliers is not always an easy process, but for large food producers in 2019, the ability to explore natural food colouring options is going to be necessary if they want to stay on trend and offer consumers what they want. Producers that want to learn more about natural food colour sourcing can stop by CCC Ingredients for more information about the particular challenges of natural colour sourcing and what questions they should ask potential suppliers.
Whatever challenges may come with making the switch to natural colours, one thing is clear: the natural food movement isn’t going anywhere, and major producers that want to capture part of the lucrative natural-foods market by positioning themselves as healthy alternatives need to be strategic about finding natural alternatives that won’t damage their brands or make their products less appetizing to their consumer base.
The good news is that recent breakthroughs in natural colour design are making it easier for large food producers to have their rainbow-coloured cake — and eat it, too.