As vegan food becomes more prevalent for environmental reasons, development processes for plant-based protein need to become more advanced. While color will not change the taste of a vegan meat product, it will influence consumer perception, making color consistency vital for these foods.
Why Color Consistency Matters
Color consistency is essential in plant-based protein because it:
- Improves visual appeal: Many senses fuel the eating experience, like taste and texture. Visual appeal is just as important when communicating how enjoyable a food will be. Color consistency for plant-based meats following the right color formula will help to make the product more visually appealing to every buyer.
- Supports product success: Consumers actively use the look of the product to determine if it’s worth purchasing. When a plant-based meat is inconsistent in color, consumers are less likely to trust the product and perceive it as out-of-date or unsafe to eat. Color consistency helps consumers develop a positive perception of the product, making them more willing to purchase it repeatedly.
- Regulates the manufacturing process: Creating standards for end products is essential for streamlining the manufacturing process. When manufacturers know what color they need to achieve for plant-based protein products, they can integrate a consistent process for achieving that color. Greater regulation leads to increased efficiency.
- Streamlines quality control: Manufacturers want to deliver high-quality vegan food products to the shelves, making quality control procedures essential. Color consistency plays a role in quality control — every product should look the same. With consistent processes in place that help to repeat the same product color, quality control processes can operate smoothly.
In plant-based protein development, many researchers have uncovered beet powder as an essential ingredient for meat alternatives. This vibrant purple-red substance can create the signifying pink color we often associate with real meat, but it needs to be used strategically. Too much beet powder in meat alternatives may make the plant-based protein hot pink, and too little may lead to an unappetizing gray.
Create Quantitative Color Measurements With Spectrophotometry
Color is a measurable science, even if it seems like a subjective quality. We perceive color based on how much an object transmits and absorbs the wavelengths of light, and we can measure this transmittance and absorbance to quantify color.
Spectrophotometers achieve this measurement with a single light source separated into each individual wavelength. These different wavelengths appear as different colors. Violet light has the highest wavelength frequency, and red has the lowest.
A spectrophotometer will isolate a single wavelength and direct it at a sample. Then, a sensor will measure how much of the light is absorbed and transmitted. The colors an object transmits are the colors we see, so beet powder transmits violet and red. The spectrophotometer will create a dataset of the different wavelengths for users to understand the color makeup of a sample.
Various public surveys have revealed the general opinion of plant-based substitutes for meat. Consumers typically rank these products highly in environmental, health and animal welfare categories. Plant-based consumer demographics generally encompass those who prioritize personal health, animal rights and eco-friendly habits.
However, vegan meat products still rank low in the taste category. Consumers who prefer real meat products prioritize taste over other factors and find most brands lack the ability to recreate the signature taste of real meat. To improve public perception, manufacturers need to develop taste in their plant-based products — one way to do so is through color.
Researchers and development teams experiment with many plant-based burger ingredients to achieve the most impressive vegan meat products. After the development process, how does plant-based meat look real? Development teams rely on methods like color measurement to create the products you see on the shelves.
The process for developing plant-based protein has to consider two identifying visual factors — texture and color.
Understanding the Color of Plant-Based Meat
You may think of visual factors as something highly subjective, especially since plant-based meat replicates something so familiar. But color is the exception. While color seems like a subjective concept, the shades and hues we perceive are based on how much light an object absorbs or transmits.
Spectrophotometers are designed to measure the absorption and transmission of light wavelengths in a given object. When measuring a sample with a spectrophotometer, the device will generate a dataset based on the level of transmission and absorption for each color.
Paper and paperboard products must comply with stringent industry standards. TAPPI is an organization that provides a forum for paper industry professionals such as engineers, scientists, managers and academics to access and share knowledge and suggest process improvements regarding paper and pulp applications.
What Is TAPPI?
The Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry (TAPPI) is a nonprofit organization founded in 1915 and consists of approximately 14,000 members. TAPPI’s mission is to develop and implement standards and publish technical papers to describe, measure and evaluate paper and pulp products.
The information furnished by TAPPI can guide users in their quest to improve their technical operations and increase efficiency. It can also help them implement innovative procedures that significantly improve processes and enhance product durability and consistency.
Examples of the peer-reviewed journals prepared and published by TAPPI include the Journal of Pulp Paper and Science and the Journal of Engineered Fibers and Fabrics.
How Fast-Food Chains Utilize Color
Color plays an essential role in our sensory palette. While most people think of taste or touch when they hear the word “food,” sight and color also go a long way. Fast food advertising colors have a major impact on how people feel when they see an ad. Knowing how to use them can be the difference between leading someone to crave the juicy burger they see on their screen and making them lose their appetite.
Colors That Make You Hungry
Using color psychology at a fast-food chain can convince consumers to buy food products. However, only specific hues evoke the desired response. Some of the colors that make people feel hungry include:
- Red: This color can trigger numerous emotions, the first being passion. However, it’s also an attention grabber and stimulates the appetite. Red can make someone feel impulsive, explaining why they might suddenly decide to pop into the chain for a meal.
- Yellow: This color brings about feelings of happiness or comfort, making the customer think about grabbing a bite to eat and enjoying it at a nice location.
- Green: This color appeals more to the conscientious than the impulsive, enticing viewers who are into more natural, “earth-friendly” food.
- Pink: This color is often associated with love and calmness. Incorporating pink into a brand can inform someone that whatever they are going to consume will be relaxing and sweet. However, you have to be careful with pink, as it can also evoke some negative images. This shade might be better for a place selling ready-made pastries.
Spectrophotometers measure light through wavelength distribution, and scientists use these instruments to measure different types of light, including visible and near-ultraviolet. Scientists wanted to obtain these measurements at a higher speed and resolution, and the double beam spectrophotometer meets this need.
Understanding Double Beam Spectrophotometers
A double beam spectrophotometer is an instrument that determines the absorption of light in liquid or gas samples in graduated cylinders. Its components are:
- Light source
- Sample holder