Eating the rainbow: The effect of food colour on consumption

By Caroline SCOTT-THOMAS contact

- Last updated on GMT

Eating the rainbow: The effect of food colour on consumption
Colourful foods often are thought to be more appealing than monochrome foods – but what evidence is there for colour’s effect on consumption? And why is colour important?

Researchers from the University of Oxford’s Department of Experimental Psychology reviewed evidence for colour’s effect on satiety, the impact of colour monotony on intake, and the effect of the display and number of colours on consumption. They found that evidence is mixed as to whether colour variety alone can affect food intake – and there are several theories, although none conclusive, about why colour might affect consumption.

One of the review’s authors, Professor Charles Spence, has previously studied the way in which the colour of plateware and even the colour of the environment may affect food and drink intake, and the authors note that the colour of the food itself may not necessarily have the biggest impact on people’s consumption behaviour.

However, while some have theorised that colour variation in foods may increase intake, by reducing ‘boredom’ with monochrome foods, other researchers have suggested that breaking colour monotony may make people more mindful of their consumption, thereby reducing intake.

“On the one hand, there is the notion that more visually pleasing foods are more likely to result in more pleasant tasting experiences,”​ the authors wrote. This could have beneficial applications, they suggest, such as colouring a food that is nutritionally important but repetitive, in order to reduce dislike – and perhaps increase consumption.

“However, increasing solely the variety of colour in a food/meal does not always appear to alter the amount of food that is consumed.”

The researchers added: “While the evidence in support of the existence of increased consumption when people are presented with increased variety regarding the taste, aroma, texture, and shape is now well-supported, researchers should be cautious (until further empirical evidence has been collected) before asserting the existence of an equivalent effect induced by nothing more than increased colour in a meal.”


Source: Appetite

Vol. 75, 1 April 2014, pp. 165–172

“Colour, pleasantness, and consumption behaviour within a meal”

Authors: Betina Piqueras-Fiszman, Charles Spence

Related topics: Science, Marketing, Flavours and colours

Related news

Show more

Related products

Behind Every Kitchen Masterpiece

Behind Every Kitchen Masterpiece

Kancor Ingredients Limited | 03-Oct-2017 | Application Note

These days most people love cooking and experiencing new cuisines thanks to their exposure to different global cuisines. Here we are presenting two of...

High Pressure Processing  - HPP

High Pressure Processing - HPP

Accurate filing of high value FMCG in glass jars | 22-Sep-2017 | Technical / White Paper

HPP offers opportunities for product innovation and extended shelf life. HPP is a proven all-natural technique that preserves the vitamins, taste and texture...

EVTene™ - Natural Palm Mixed-Carotene Complex

EVTene™ - Natural Palm Mixed-Carotene Complex

ExcelVite Sdn. Bhd. | 01-Feb-2017

EVTene™ Natural palm mixed carotene complex is a reddish vegetable oil suspension extracted and concentrated from non-GMO, Malaysian sustainable virgin...

Related suppliers

Follow us

Featured Events

View more


View more