In Living Coral? Pantone tips pink-tinted hue for 2019 as Instagrammable food colors trend


07 Dec 2018 --- Pantone has named “Living Coral,” a pink-tinted hue as its color of the year for 2019, inspiring colors suppliers and packaging manufacturers to think about what the food & beverage implications may be. The shade, part orange, part pink, is a warm and welcoming one that adds life and playfulness, according to Jeffrey Beers, founder and CEO of his eponymous design firm. This year’s color was Ultra Violet, a deep purple hue. The news of the choice of coral has been met with interest from food colors suppliers, who shared their views with FoodIngredientsFirst.

“Vibrant, yet mellow Pantone 16-1546 Living Coral embraces us with warmth and nourishment to provide comfort and buoyancy in our continually shifting environment,” the company writes in a promotion.

Pantone, which began life as a commercial printing company in the 1950s before turning into bonafide color experts, providing professional color standards for the design industry, have been picking their top color annually since 2000. Through seasonal trend forecasts, color psychology and color consulting, the Pantone Color Institute partners with global brands to leverage the power, psychology and emotion of color in their design strategy. For 20 years, Pantone’s Color of the Year has influenced product development and purchasing decisions in multiple industries, including fashion, home furnishings and industrial design, as well as product, packaging and graphic design. Past selections for Color of the Year include: 2018: Ultra Violet; 2017: Greenery; 2016: Serenity, 2015: Rose Quartz and; 2014: Marsala.

Click to EnlargeSociable and spirited, the engaging nature of Pantone 16-1546
Living Coral welcomes and encourages lighthearted activity. 
“In reaction to the onslaught of digital technology and social media increasingly embedding into daily life, we are seeking authentic and immersive experiences that enable connection and intimacy. Sociable and spirited, the engaging nature of Pantone 16-1546 Living Coral welcomes and encourages lighthearted activity. Symbolizing our innate need for optimism and joyful pursuits, Pantone 16-1546 Living Coral embodies our desire for playful expression. Representing the fusion of modern life, Pantone Living Coral is a nurturing color that appears in our natural surroundings and at the same time, displays a lively presence within social media,” it notes.

Gaia Saccani, Senior Marketing Manager Natural Color Division Europe Middle East Africa at Chr. Hansen, notes that Pantone’s Color of the Year is a source of inspiration for the company as well as for their main customers on the development of new variants or products.

“Color is key in food. It is not only linked to appearance but is also a driver of flavor and flavor perception. Today in the social media era it is more important than ever. Everything that is easily shared is trendy and being colorful and natural increases the appeal,” she notes. 

Saccani explains that Chr. Hansen’s Living Coral shade can be achieved through the use of specific raw materials based on red and yellow shades such as black or orange carrots and the company’s newly launched red vegetable juices. 

“Chr. Hansen works in partnership with key manufacturers to identify in which food & beverage applications this shade has to be reached and takes all the technical factors that can influence the color performance into consideration. The main challenges are related to the formulation, pH, processing temperature, packaging, etc. All these factors could impact the final shade. One of the most important challenges is the level of naturalness that the food company wants to reach: working with coloring ingredients requires more care but it allows to clean the label from additives,” she notes.

Thomas Krahl, Head of Technical Service, Sensient Colors Europe GmbH agrees that the food industry has been following the general color trends set by Pantone for innovative new product developments. He notes that possible applications for this type of coral color are diverse, including beverages, confectionery (such as panned sweets, high boiled candies and jellies), dairy (including ice cream and fruit ice), decoration, bakery and savory. “Sensient has plenty of options to achieve this shade by using both, natural colors based on carotenoids and coloring foods e.g. combinations of paprika and beet. For these pastel shades and creamy appearance, additional product options like our recently launched Avalanche White range perform well,” he adds.
Click to EnlargeChristiane Lippert, Head of Marketing (Food) at Lycored

“The great thing about Pantone color trends, while aimed at the broader world of fashion, interiors, packaging and beyond, is that, even in the food world it creates new opportunities for new shades, by inspiring creativity,” says Christiane Lippert, Head of Marketing (Food) at Lycored. 

“This year’s color trend also brings positive association to the the whole sustainability issue of preserving some of earth’s natural beauty, in this case ‘living coral’,” she notes. “This in turn can inspire flavor combinations that relate to the shade. In the food industry it could associate in tones related to the sea world like salmon, smoked salmon or surimi seafood, but similarly create opportunity to create interesting flavors that could combine to achieve that shade such as mix of citrus or passion fruit with red fruits that could work in dairy, dessert and beverage applications,” she explains.

Lippert explains that the versatility of color formulations is that depending on the recipe and application base, the process and the dosage level, various shades can be achieved. 

“At a glance, looking at a number of our product shades displayed in icing type matrix show that SteadfastScarlet A which is a red with a slight orange hue, or ResilientRed A with slightly more pink direction could be likely candidates achieve this beautiful living coral shade,” she notes.

Nathalie Pauleau, Natural Colors Category Director at Naturex, notes coral to be a very energetic and optimistic color. “At Naturex, we have launched a Coral Red, specific for dairy applications. Coral can also be very successful in acid applications like juicy drinks or confectionery. Vibrant colors can easily be achieved with various carrot blends from our coloring foods line Vegebrite. And with Naturex’s deep expertise in botanicals, we can be the ideal partner to develop healthy beverages containing natural color and botanical extracts,” Pauleau says.

The notion of “the Instagramability of food” is taking the food & beverage industry by storm, with the recent color hit widely known as “millennial pink” – inspired by Pantone’s 2015 pick, Rose Quartz – highly influenced by this. 

Innova Market Insights listed “Connected to the Plate” as a key trend for 2019 (trend #10), noting that “never in history have we been more connected to the plate in front of us.” The market researcher stresses that sharing food and dining pictures is no longer the reserve of a nerdy foodie – “the Instagrammability of food” truly has widespread appeal, particularly among millennials. Technological advances are key enablers for consumers to get closer to their food, literally, but also in terms of transparency, knowledge and chat/sharing on social media. An Innova Market Insights Trends Survey (2018) found that 55 percent of Chinese consumers, 43 percent of US consumers and 24 percent of UK consumers aged 26-35 years share pictures of their food online once a week or more.

Krahl at Sensient Colors Europe GmbH, concurs that the role for food sharing online will influence both the color and flavor and new product development in 2019 and beyond. 

“The visual appearance of food is becoming ever more important with people often sharing food product images on social media such as Instagram,” he says. 

“Combined with consumers looking for increasingly different taste experiences and the popularity of authentic ethnic flavors, greater authenticity of foods visual appearance is demanded. To meet this need Sensient has expanded its range of natural colors and coloring foods with vibrant shades of yellows, oranges and reds now available to closer match the authentic Asian cuisine experience,” he adds.

The rise of the adventurous consumer has driven the creation of new consumer products that stand out from the rest he notes. “Changing the appearance of foods is one way to offer this greater variety and a social media based culture drives the importance of how food and drink products actually look. Sensient is working with its R&D and applications specialists to further expand its range of natural coloring solutions across the whole color spectrum for new vibrant and different natural coloring solutions that perform well in a wide range of applications,” he explains. 

The company’s latest product launch is Pistachio Green, based on algae. “Thanks to its good heat stability it delivers an intense bright green shade with low taste impact in muffins. Other application areas include ice cream, extruded snack products, breakfast cereals and pasta,” he adds. 

Social media is playing an increasing role in global food trends, offering an opportunity for vibrant natural food colors, Elizabeth Green writes in an article to appear in the December issue of The World of Food Ingredients. For several years, we have seen products marketed on color platforms and the trend is showing no signs of slowing down. Color-rich foods and spices such as beetroot, spirulina and turmeric are increasingly being recognized for their health properties. They are often being featured in a wide range of healthy or clean food products. 

“‘Hashtag activism’ is rapidly gaining momentum as a state of ultra-connectedness to motivate millennials,” claims Antoine Dauby, Marketing Communications Director at Naturex. “The younger generations are connected to social media platforms 24 hours a day, including Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram, where they post and share what they are often consuming.”

Dauby believes that the “Instagrammable” food trend isn’t just about creating attractive images, it’s about capturing a lifestyle. For many millennials, that lifestyle is all about authenticity, naturalness and aesthetics.

“Instagrammable shades are frequently made from concentrates of fruits, vegetables, edible flowers and algae, offering the perfect combo of visual appeal and authenticity. The ingredients are guaranteed to look good on social media, offering attractive pictures of food and drink that young people can share with their friends and followers,” he explains.

Instagrammable food is a concept of presentation for food and user-generated content that provides brand ambassadorship. “Instagrammable food either looks great or stands out in some way – whether regarding color, texture or ingredients. The concept expands beyond just the Instagram platform into other outlets such as Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr too. As consumers, we are naturally visual creatures and drawn to beautiful photography in our social media feeds,” notes Dauby. 

#CleanEating is proving to be a particularly popular food hashtag on Instagram. According to Dauby, new ingredients that are in line with the trend for clean labels, which promote clean eating, are also gaining traction on social media and have been for some time. 

As we become more digitally vocal, the manner in which we process and present information through social media is at our fingertips and likely to play a role in color formulation choice for some time. It will be interesting to see just how important “Living Coral” becomes among trendy color choice. 

By Robin Wyers

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