Lycored: consumers will pay natural premium

18 Jul 2016

Consumers are happy to pay a premium of nearly 50% for food and drink formulated with natural ingredients, according to a new survey commissioned by Lycored.

Lycored: consumers will pay natural premium

Consumers are happy to pay a premium of nearly 50% for food and drink formulated with natural ingredients, according to a new survey commissioned by Lycored.

In the online poll, researchers asked 506 US consumers whether they would be prepared to spend more on a product if it was made with natural flavourings and colours. In total, 88% said they would.

This group of consumers was then told that the average flavoured milk beverage costs US$1.50 and they were asked how much they would be willing spend on a product if it was made with natural ingredients. On average, they said they would pay up to $2.20 – 47% more.

The survey also found that the respondents preferred the appearance of natural colours even when they were not told they were natural. The researchers asked the respondents to express their visual perceptions of naturalness when presented with two flavoured milk drinks formulated with Lycored’s Tomat-O-Red natural colours and another made with Red 3, an artificial colorant. They were not informed which was which, and were asked to rate them on a 10 point scale in which 0 was ‘not at all natural’ and 10 was ‘extremely natural’.

Lycored’s Tomat-O-Red RP, which is designed for use in a wide range of foods and beverages, performed best, with consumers rating it the most natural looking. It was followed by Tomat-O-Red R, which was developed for products that contain oil and fat. The artificial colorant, Red 3, was ranked third most natural looking.

“Our research delivers two key learnings,” said Christiane Lippert, Head of Marketing (Food) at Lycored. “Firstly, consumers are willing to pay significantly more for the reassurance that a product contains natural colours and flavours. Secondly, they find natural colours more appealing from a visual perspective. For food and beverage manufacturers there is a clear message here: using natural ingredients in formulations will resonate with shoppers and enable you to charge more for your products, boosting sales and profits.”

In tandem with its consumer research, Lycored ran a trial to establish the stability of its natural colours following UHT processing, which is commonly used in the manufacturing of flavoured milks.

Lycored used two different UHT process technologies to make strawberry flavoured milk drinks: direct injection and tubular. Subsequently, the beverages were subjected to accelerated shelf life tests. In each case, it was observed that the products made with Tomat-O-Red RP and Tomat-O-Red R exhibited excellent colour stability, with no variation visible to the naked eye. By contrast, the colour of the flavoured milk made with Red 3 varied dramatically from day zero onwards.

Lycored also evaluated the performance of its natural colours in tests that replicated the harshest possible conditions during transportation, storage and while on sale in-store. The UHT strawberry milk drinks were exposed for extended periods to 24/7 light (6,000 lux), ambient temperatures of 25°C-40°C (in normal day/night light patterns), and continual incubation at 40°C (in the dark).

In all cases, the resilience of Tomat-O-Red colourings was demonstrated by little or no variation in the colour of the milkshakes they were used in, while the flavoured milks made with the artificial colour, Red 3, displayed marked variations.

“Colour stability is a priority for food and beverage manufacturers and these tests prove that Tomat-O-Red natural colours will withstand even the most difficult conditions over an extended period,” said Tammi Higgins, Head of Colorants at Lycored. “This eliminates the need for expensive chilled storage and transportation, and reduces wastage. Most importantly, it means brands can be certain that their products will be enjoyed by the end-consumer exactly as they intended.”