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Clean label trends spill over into beverages

Today’s consumers are increasingly health-conscious. From natural sweeteners to lower calorie options, many diners are interested in better-for-you food and drinks. For restaurants, the opportunity is rich—by altering menu items slightly, operators can enjoy a big return on investment.

The informed consumer

Within the past few years, the concept of healthy foods and drinks has shifted. Previously, consumers who were interested in healthy foods may have looked for descriptors like “low fat” or “low calorie.” Nowadays, however, more consumers are interested in knowing things like where their food came from, whether it’s sustainable, and what ingredients are used. For restaurants, using natural colors for foods isn’t new—think of pasta dough tinted with vegetable purees, for instance—but now, natural colors in drinks provide a new opportunity. In fact, consumer preference for natural ingredients is up by 80% in just the past three years, according to Technomic’s 2017 Natural Food Ingredient and Coloring Sentiment Study.

Modern consumers do their research—they often know ahead of time what they want to order from a restaurant before they go there, and up to 68% of consumers are more likely to research the ingredients that go into their food and beverages. According to The Technomic study, 28% of consumers say they’d be more likely to order milkshakes, malts and smoothies if they were made with natural coloring, while 26% say the same about soft drinks. For that reason, restaurants stand to benefit from offering naturally-colored beverages on their menus.

Menuing natural ingredients

According to The Hartman Group’s report “A Culture of Wellness 20-13,” 44% of consumers say they are deliberately trying to avoid artificial colors and dyes in their daily diet. One of the biggest places that artificial colors appear on menus is in the beverage category. A number of drinks often have dye in them, but increasingly, brands are shifting to using vegetable and fruit juices to color beverages. For instance, a drink that previously relied on Red 40 dye for its bright red color might use strawberry or beet juice for its color now.

And when restaurants menu natural ingredients, the benefit is huge: according to Technomic’s study, 35% of restaurant customers will visit a restaurant more often if there are more natural ingredients, while 35% will visit less—why abandon 35% of consumers when the shift to natural colors is such a simple solution?

Naturally-colored drinks on menus

Thankfully, replacing artificial colors with natural doesn’t mean switching up the beverage program to just plain water. In fact, some of the most buzzworthy drinks in the past couple of years have used natural colorings. For instance, Starbucks’ not-so-secret menu boasts a “Pink Drink” made with strawberries and coconut milk as well as the “Orange Drink,” which is made with orange mango puree, coconut milk and vanilla syrup.

Other instances of naturally-colored drinks on menus include turmeric tonics at many juice bars—turmeric offers a vibrant yellow-orange hue—and bright green smoothies, which get their color from spirulina.

Ready to add naturally-colored drinks to your menu? Find out all that Chr. Hansen has to offer with its line of all natural food and drink colorings.

This post is sponsored by Chr. Hansen

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