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Food and Beverages Should Appeal to All the Senses

Consumers are looking for extraordinary sensory experiences, but perceptual differences present formulation challenges.

The various sensory properties of food—including appearance, texture, sound, fragrance and, of course, flavor—work together to delight, bore or repel consumers. This synergy has become increasingly important today, with individuals attaching more significance to their food choices and prioritizing personalization and adventure, as well as wellness and environmental sustainability.

“Humans are multisensory beings,” notes Keera Perumbala, marketing manager for Sensient Flavors, a unit of Sensient Technologies Corp., Milwaukee. “Our food and beverage choices have moved far away from being one-dimensional, as we crave for our products to offer us an experience. This is especially true of younger Millennials and Generation Z consumers.”

Foods that previously resonated with all generations of mainstream American consumers, such as a simple sandwich on white bread, boxed macaroni and cheese and canned fruit cocktail, hold no allure for contemporary foodies. They are eager to try novel cuisines and beverages and unique ingredient combinations and to share their discoveries with others.

With so many consumers snapping photos of their food with their smart phones and posting the images on Instagram, an enticing appearance has never been more crucial for food and beverage products. “If there is anything that the unicorn trend has taught us, it is that younger consumers eat with their eyes,” Perumbala says. “They focus on the appearance of food, as it is key to creating Instagram-worthy images.”

The more vibrant the colors are, the more tempting the foods appear, she continues. “Evolutionally, consumers are attracted to bright and vibrant shades. Think of the deep purple shades that berries bring or the bright red shades of beets. At Sensient, we have a robust portfolio of rainbow shades to suit the needs of our customers; whether [they are] going into a beverage or baked goods, we can offer shades to perform well in all types of processing parameters.”

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