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Colour research

DDW survey affirms beverage colour influences flavour perception

DD Williamson reports that it conducted an informal taste test in March with two dozen students. The students, aged 16-18 years old, were presented with carbonated drinks in three different hues (clear, brown and pink) and asked to describe how each tasted. They were not told that all three beverage samples were actually the same flavour, lemon-lime, in three different colours.

An overwhelming majority responded – inaccurately – that the beverages had different flavours, demonstrating yet again that colour affects taste perception.

Clear Soft Drink: The clear, colourless soft drink was accurately described as having a lemon-lime or citrus flavour by 81% of the teenage taste testers. A small segment said it was flavourless.

Brown Soft Drink: The brown, caramel-coloured soft drink was described as either “sweet” or “fruity” by a one-third (34%) of the students. Cola was the next flavour identified, named by 15%. Nearly half did not offer a specific description of the flavour.

Pink Soft Drink: The pink, beet-coloured soft drink was described as “fruity”, “berry” or “sweet” by more than one-third (38%). Other responses included “cola”, “ginger ale”, and/or “flavourless”.

Of the three beverages tasted, the teens named Pink as their favourite. Multiple students indicated that the pink beverage was the most flavourful and visually appealing.

Note that a very small segment of the students accurately responded that all three beverages tasted exactly the same, despite having different colours.

Many studies have linked the color of food and beverage products with taste and visual appeal. A trial conducted by ABC News in 2011 showed similar results. Watch the full video (and interview with food industry expert, Kantha Shelke) here:

To learn about naturally derived colouring in carbonated beverages, visit: