Visual appeal and clean label are crucial for APAC brands to launch red drinks

The color red is particularly important in the APAC region as it is culturally linked to auspiciousness and luck and many festivals in the region such as Chinese New Year, as well as representing positive emotions such as passion, strength and vitality.

An example of a striking red drink that has gone viral on social media in recent weeks has been the launch of Coca-Cola’s limited-edition Starlight variant in the United States, which has been marketed as being inspired by space. , stargazing and the universe. The beverage giant chose to launch this particular cola in a red hue as opposed to the traditional caramel brown.

“It was a very interesting way to appeal to the imagination of consumers and also to excite them, with consumer demand for new experiences also being a very crucial trend that has grown in importance since COVID-19 has struck”,Carel Soo, APAC marketing manager for specialty food coloring brand Oterra, said FoodNavigator-Asia​.

She added: “The vibrancy of the color red is also very much related to increased appetite, and for this reason it is actually very common to see many food and drink brands with red logos due to all these positive connotations”,Carel Soo, APAC marketing manager for specialty food coloring brand Oterra, said FoodNavigator-Asia​.

“Additionally, red fruit drink flavors such as strawberry, watermelon, pomegranate and various iterations of these are also very popular with consumers in APAC, so red is really a very important color for the local beverage industry.”

However, berries are also known to be some of the most difficult to work with, due to natural components that interact with anthocyanins (compounds commonly found in most red color solutions), which would affect both stability at long term as well as nutritional value. components in beverages.

“Most red color solutions for beverages today use black carrots or red radishes with anthocyanins to give the red color, but combining them with flavors such as strawberries makes the anthocyanins very unstable because the components of strawberry flavor actually acts very aggressively on anthocyanins”,Rene Fontejin, Commercial Director of Oterra’s Beverage Industry, told us.

“That’s really what makes red drinks harder to work with in terms of getting natural solutions, because it took a lot more reformulation work to gain stability in the drinks. But it’s also necessary, because our solution, based on sweet potatoes, is not only more stable but able to impart a unique fire engine red hue that makes drinks very striking.

Visually striking beverages are now all the rage in APAC with an increase in consumers who are not only tech-savvy but also eager to share striking food and beverage experiences on social media.

“The visual appeal of beverages is really increasing in importance due to the parallel increase in online engagement of today’s consumers,”Soo added.

“Everyone wants to post visually appealing products on their social media, and bright red drinks can be very striking, especially in fire engine red, so many drink brands are looking for ways to enhance their visual appeal and link the development of their products to positive moods and emotions, to which red is also linked.

Attractiveness for a clean label

Health concerns have also accelerated due to the pandemic, another major trend beverage makers need to consider.

“One of the main ways this has evolved is that consumers now really want transparency in how their drinks are made and what ingredients are in them,”says Soo.

“It’s also worth noting that natural ingredients are also always associated with safety, and brands need to respond to that.”

Many consumers are looking for Clean Label products with this in mind, which is a challenge faced by many beverage brands that use artificial colors.

“Artificial colors have long been an industry standard due to their stability, but they come with many other issues for brands, such as the need to include E-numbers on their labels,”​ Jude Wong, Oterra Regional Applications Manager, explained.

“Having these E-numbers on the label makes making claims difficult, with even more challenges when making red drinks, but this new sweet potato solution not only makes claims on a clean label, but also plant-based, which appeals to consumers.

Oterra’s new FruitMax Red 116 WS sweet potato can be used as a replacement for conventional Allura Red and is also available for use in food applications.

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