Packaging Innovation
food packaging color
March 9, 2015

The psychology of color in food packaging

More than 90 percent of shoppers make snap judgments about products based on color alone. In other words, the psychology of color greatly impacts our behavior in-store. Red, for instance, triggers our appetite more than any other hue by stimulating our emotional responses and memory triggers. Red is, however, also the color that implies danger in most cultures across the globe. How then can food packaging designers and brands use color to boost sales?

Colors trigger emotions that influence the shopping behavior

It’s no secret that color is an important factor when buying groceries. Certain colors look more attractive than others, yet they also trigger emotional responses consumers might not be fully aware of. It’s your job as a packaging designer to use the psychology of color to get the best results.

The most important colors for food packaging designers:


  • universally used in food marketing
  • strong eye-catcher
  • triggers emotional responses and appetite
  • we associate red with freshness


  • usually indicates cheerfulness and optimism
  • the brain releases serotonin at the sight of yellow


  • synonymous with health and wellbeing
  • typically associated with natural ingredients and wholesomeness


  • typically used for hearty and satisfying foods


  • used for snack food packaging, especially food and cookies
  • typically associated with children’s products
  • not to be used for natural foods – appetite suppressant

There is more to food packaging than color

It may appear that designing effective food packaging is merely a matter of selecting the right color – preferably red – to create the corresponding effect with your customers. Evidently, there is more to food packaging design than that. Originality and practicality of the package, for instance, are two important factors to take into account too, apart from the color. Package design requires an amount of artistry, if you like, no psychological study is able to replace.