It certainly isn't easy to list several purple foods, nor is it the first color that comes to mind when we think of natural ingredients. However, as predicted by the international consulting firm Mintel in 2012, the consumption of purple food and beverages has become a global trend. And although it seemed rather utopian at the time because -let's be honest- when we think about food we think about other colors, today it is the fashionable color in food.
Peruvian foods that are a global trend
Peru is known all over the world as one of the world's main food sources, a real agricultural paradise where you can find ingredients of all colors, flavors and aromas. At Mintel's Global New Products Database we have found two innovative purple products made from Peruvian foods that have recently been launched all over the world.
This is the case of a type of Italian gnocchi, Lukulleria by Eismann Purple Gnocchi, whose main ingredients are Vitelotte potatoes, a purple potato variety from Peru. This tuber owes its name to its characteristic color; its properties featuring its antioxidant power and its capacity to reduce hypertension, as revealed by a study conducted by the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania.
The other product is Morinaga Koeda Purple Sweet Potato Chocolate Sticks, from Japan. These are chocolate sticks, flavored with purple sweet potato powder, also native to Peru and considered one of man's oldest foods. Its main properties include its vitamin A, C and B6, potassium and dietary fiber content; its consumption also helps control diabetes, improves your liver function and reduces oxidative stress.
However, these are not the only Peruvian foods of this color that have conquered the world: the the native purple flesh potatoes - a natural and healthy legacy of pre-Columbian civilizations - have reached other continents thanks to their incredible flavor, but also due to the special color that embellishes them. It is worth mentioning that our country is considered to be the main potato producer in Latin America, producing more than 4.5 million tons, covering a cultivated area of 787,105 acres and with an average yield of 5.87 tons per acre (Minagri, 2016).
Another Peruvian food with this color that has triumphed abroad is purple corn, a variety of corn whose cultivation dates back to pre-Hispanic times. This ingredient forms the basis of Peruvian gastronomic icons such as mazamorra and chicha morada. However, due to its nutraceutical properties, this product has crossed borders, and even oceans, and is today one of the most in-demand in the U.S. and Europe. Thanks to increased consumption in these areas its cultivation has exceeded 12,355 acres in our country.
Purple is in fashion
Part of the rise in popularity of purple foods is due to the interest of today's consumers in products that appeal more to the senses. In Mintel's "World Trends in Food and Beverages" (2016) report, 'Eat With Your Eyes' was identified as a key trend. According to this trend, although taste has long been the focus of innovation, today's society is focused on image and action, and does therefore demand products that appeal more to the senses.
This is why brands have begun to experiment with vibrant colors (such as purple), appealing aromas, as well as innovative shapes in their packaged products, seeking to make them more desirable and praiseworthy.
Parallel to the issue of sensory perception, there is also consumers' interest in having products on the market that remain as close as possible to their natural form, according to Clean eating, which is a preference for consuming whole foods that are natural and unprocessed. Naturally purple foods show potential here on this point; all the more so when one considers the fact that producers of foods with this color have been linking food color to health. It should in addition be noted that, according to the Global New Products Database (GNPD), produced by Mintel, there has been a 126% increase in purple food and beverage products launched globally between 2012 and 2018.
Foods such as blueberries, plums, blackberries, grapes, eggplants and beets owe their color to anthocyanins, pigments that are rich in antioxidants, important for the prevention of atherosclerosis and high blood pressure. It does also reduce blood sugar levels, decreasing inflammatory molecules and increasing the production of glucose transporters in muscle tissue.
Anthocyanins help eliminate free radicals, which damage DNA in the body and are believed to be a factor in the aging process and the development of heart disease and cancer. It also reduces uric acid levels in the blood and the risk of developing gout by inhibiting an enzyme called xanthine oxidase, which produces uric acid from purines in the body.
Sources: blog.oncosalud.pe/ RPP/ miarevista.es/ tuberculos.org