Bakery and snack brands can gain an advantage in the industry by leveraging the potential of natural colors. Trends are being driven by Generation Z consumers who are motived by a psychological and emotional need to live more purposeful and joyful lives, said Alice Lee, technical marketing manager for GNT USA.

“We recently identified how this audacious new era of ‘healthy hedonism’ is profoundly transforming the culinary landscape as shoppers seek out nutritious, sustainable products that also deliver the fun factor — and color is very much at the forefront of that,” she said. “Bright, soft-play pastel shades can be used to redefine what healthy baked goods and snacks look like, offering sensorial satisfaction through fluffy, squishy or sugary finishes. Clashing and rebellious color combinations can also be used in products such as cakes, creating a sensory pile-up of highly saturated shades and congealed and mattified surfaces.”

Meghan Skidmore, marketing specialist, Sensient Food Colors, said besides the shift to natural colors, several trends have emerged.

“Bold, bright shades are very popular,” she said. “Eye-catching colors can indicate unique, sensational flavors that thrill adventurous consumers. In baked goods, indulgence is particularly engaging for shoppers. Seasonal launches are also highly popular, and the use of color to emphasize a holiday connection or limited-edition flavor is extremely effective.”

Susan Frecker, senior application scientist, Oterra Inc., cited Innova Research that said consumers are becoming more interested in flavors from around the world. 

“Baked goods and snacks are often part of social celebrations and bold colors and new flavors play a role in enhancing joy during these gatherings,” she said. “Popular flavor trends may correlate with popular colors.” 

This article is an excerpt from the February 2023 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on Colors & Flavors, click here.