Chris Brockman
As EMEA Research Manager, Chris oversees the Food & Drink Analysts in Europe, while focusing on the latest innovation, market shifts and trends in the bakery category.

From cake to gin, food and drink brands are innovating with the pink ‘instagrammable’ colour across various product categories. As pink innovations continue to grow, we explore the evolution of this trend and the factors driving its expansion.

A Millennial and social media-driven trend

In 2017-2018, the influence of social media gave bright colours a real boost, and at about that time we especially saw the growing popularity of rosé wine and pink gin. As outlined by Mintel’s 2016 Global Food and Drink trend ‘Eat with Your Eyes’, brightly coloured food and drink tends to appeal to younger consumers, especially Generation Z (up to age 24) and younger Millennials (aged 25-31), due to their desire to create visually appealing images. 

In 2017, Gordon’s released Premium Pink Gin in the UK. We’ve also seen ruby chocolate launches start to appear in 2018, also aimed at social media driven Millennials. This was followed by the ‘unicorn trend’ in 2019 (and other related animal themes, including pink flamingos), which often use garish colours like pink, although the latter has certainly waned in the last couple of years.

Ruby chocolate

Almondy Ruby Passion Almond Cake (Sweden)

Source: Mintel GNPD

This unusual dessert is a gluten-free almond cake with a smooth passionfruit cream covered in Ruby chocolate and topped with white chocolate.

Oliviero Ruby Nougat Balls (US)

Source: Mintel GNPD

Oliviero Ruby Nougat Balls are described as soft almond nougat with a pink cocoa bean ruby covering.

Pink Himalayan salt

The product that is really driving the numbers now in ‘pink’ launches is pink Himalayan salt. The pink colour comes from mineral contamination, trace amounts of iron oxide in this case. The benefit is really just aesthetic rather than health driven. 

Q-Vita Pink Himalayan Salt Block (Brazil)

Source: Mintel GNPD

This Pink Himalayan Salt Block adds flavour to food without the need for additional seasoning. It can be used to grill meat, poultry, fish and seafood without the need to pre-salt the food, enhancing the flavour in a natural way. This product works like a wooden board that can be used in the oven, on the grill or on the stove top to cook food on, while it absorbs the seasoning. It retails at around £20 and can be reused.

Pink gin 

Globally, pink gin launches continue to be on the up. 2020 saw the highest number of launches, but 2021 looks set to be even higher. 

WKD Pink Gin Flavour Alcoholic Mix (UK)

Source: Mintel GNPD

WKD Pink Gin Flavour Alcoholic Mix is a limited edition pack for Summer 2021, featuring the TV show Love Island. This sparkling fortified alcoholic premix is blended with fruit and gin flavours, contains caffeine, and is free from gluten.

Nutrition-focused launches

Whilst all of the above are very much visually/social media-driven, we have also seen some related trends in fruit and vegetables which are more nutrition-focused. For example, beetroot, radishes, and pomegranates were all up on usage incidence on US menus in 2020 and beetroot especially is increasingly being promoted on health grounds (e.g. improved blood flow, lower blood pressure, and increased exercise performance). 

Beetroot pesto

Wicked Kitchen Pink Beetroot Pesto (UK)

Source: Mintel GNPD

Wicked Kitchen Pink Beetroot Pesto comprises beetroot, cashews, tofu and roasted garlic with a hint of smoke. This vegan product is said to feature a bold marriage of delicate and punchy flavours, and crunchy textures from vegetables that are good for the planet.

Pink guava juice

Of course, artificially coloured pink food isn’t going to be the same as a naturally pink food. In general, pink and red fruits are also known to be rich in antioxidants, polyphenols and other phytochemicals beneficial for health. Lycopene, a carotenoid and antioxidant, found in watermelon (and others – grapefruit, guavas, tomatoes) is good for heart health, eye health and cancer prevention. 

Vuco Fresh 100% Pure Pink Guava Juice (South Korea)

Source: Mintel GNPD

This premium product is said to be freshly squeezed and cold pressed from natural fruits only, is not from concentrate, and is free from additives.