Instagrammable healthy food: Japanese firm makes blue-coloured dressing with spirulina

By Tingmin Koe contact

- Last updated on GMT

Ocean Blue non-oil dressing derives its blue colour from spirulina extracts.
Ocean Blue non-oil dressing derives its blue colour from spirulina extracts.

Related tags: Instagram, spirulina, Collagen

Japanese sauce maker Kenko Mayo has launched a blue-coloured salad dressing that contains spirulina extracts and collagen, in an attempt to meet consumer demands for “instagrammable” and healthier food.

“Finding instagrammable foods is a hot topic amongst consumers these days, and we decided to tap on the trend when developing new products. We decided on the bright blue colour as it is the most visually impactful,” ​Sukaya Ryu, manager from the firm’s external sales division, overseas business told FoodNavigator-Asia.

To address consumers’ concerns about the use of artificial colour additives, the firm uses spirulina extracts for natural colouring.

With each bottle of dressing containing 5000mg of collagen, Sukaya said the firm had intended to market the product to female consumers who were beauty-conscious.

“From our market survey, we found out that female consumers would immediately think of collagen and vitamin C when we ask them for their idea of a health and beauty ingredient. Thus, we decided to add collagen into the dressing.”

To obtain the desired colouring and to ensure that the colour remained consistent throughout the manufacturing process, the firm took at least 10 months to complete the R&D process, Sukaya said.

“We want to produce dressings and sauces that are not only used in side dishes, but in the main dishes and desserts as well,” ​he said, adding that the dressing could also be added into other foods, such as rice and boiled eggs.

Sales performance

Sukaya revealed that the product had exceeded sales expectation and was out of stock soon after its launch. 

According to latest information provided by the company, the number of product orders has exceeded expectation by five times within first two weeks of its launch. 

The product has also outperformed other products launched by the firm in the same period, with its number of product orders surpassing others by 23.7 times.

At present, the dressing is only available on the firm’s online store and selling within Japan since it expires in 90 days.

However, as there are queries from Hong Kong and Taiwan, the firm is considering marketing the product to the two markets.

The role of colour

The popular use of social media applications such as Instagram has urged the food industry to innovate the use of colours.

“Colour is a key driver of food purchase. There is an increasing number of food & beverage launches centered on colorful efforts to stand out on the shelf. Instagramability of a food is a major driver for consumers, especially Millennials and Gen Z drive this trend,” said​ Sarah Browner of Innova Market Insights.

Yet, the use of natural colours is not widely seen in the APAC region, as the market is still overwhelmingly driven by price, according​ to Antony Kunjachan, executive director at Arjuna Natural Extracts, an India-based natural extracts manufacturer and exporter.

He was however confident that demand for natural colouring would eventually rise as consumers demand for clean label products.  

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