The Psychology of Colour in Traditional and Plant-Based Meat Packaging

You may not realise it, but when you’re browsing food products, the colour of a product’s packaging can subtly influence whether you purchase it.

In its latest New Food Hub guide, ProVeg International explores how colour is used in marketing traditional meat products and contrasts these strategies with those of plant-based alternatives. The guide also analyses the impact of colour choices on consumers and presents successful examples from both categories.

Which colours are used in traditional meat packaging?

Traditional meat packaging uses the following colours to convey different qualities – from juiciness to trustworthiness and everything in between.

Red: Conventional meat products often feature red in their packaging and branding. This colour is associated with the natural appearance of meat, signalling freshness and appetising qualities. For example, beef packaging often uses deep reds to evoke the image of juicy, cooked steaks.

LikeMeat burgers in packaging with grill
Image courtesy of ProVeg International

Black and white: Many premium meat products use black-and-white colour schemes to convey a sense of sophistication and exclusivity. High-end steakhouses and meat brands frequently employ these colours to signal quality and luxury.

Blue: Some meat producers have incorporated blue into their branding to convey key qualities such as trust, reliability, and safety. Blue’s cool and calming nature can instill confidence in consumers, particularly when it comes to selecting meat products where hygiene and quality assurance are of key importance.

What colours are used in plant-based packaging?

Generally, the packaging of plant-based meat products differs from that of traditional meat products, focussing on colours that have different consumer associations. Ultimately, the end goal is a positive (but subtle) association that will lead to a purchase!

Green: Green is a popular colour choice for plant-based products when it comes to packaging and branding. This is because it emphasises their link to natural ingredients and sustainability. Companies that offer plant-based alternatives often use this strategy, since these products are considered to be healthier and better for the environment than meat-based options.

Bright and vibrant colours: To make a clear visual distinction with traditional meat products, many plant-based alternatives opt for bright and vibrant colours. These striking colours can be visually appealing and represent a youthful, modern approach that is geared toward younger generations.

Heura fish packaging
© Heura

Brown or beige: Plant-based brands use earthy tones to replicate the look and texture of meat, making the transition to plant-based eating smoother for consumers. This strategy appeals to environmentally conscious consumers and can attract new ones by promoting sustainable eating habits.

The power of colour

Colour plays a powerful role in shaping consumer choices, often in ways that go unnoticed. Ultimately, we must learn what works with our target audience and develop a strategy that can optimise sales.

To uncover the full impact of colour choice and actionable insights for your business, read the full ProVeg guide on the New Food Hub.

You can get in touch with ProVeg at [email protected] for more support on your alternative protein strategy.

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