Food Colour Survey: Do We Eat The Rainbow?

They say we eat with our eyes first, but how much of that is influenced by colour? 

At Birds Eye we love to eat in full colour so we were curious to know just how many colours can you find on the average British plate. So we’ve put this to test and asked Brits to tell us what colours they mostly eat, how conscious they are about following a balanced diet, and what colours they’re least likely to eat.

We wanted to take it even further, so we conducted a little experiment to learn what people gravitate to when presented with various colourful plates of food. We enlisted the help of Laura Tilt, a registered dietitian and health writer to uncover why we make certain food choices.

Are there colours that automatically put us off and that we instantly want to avoid? And how can we make sure we can eat enough colourful veg and fruit all year round?


Colour me surprised!

Who would have thought that Brits love a bit of colour on their plates? Despite the belief that we are often tucking into starchy plain-coloured carbs like pasta, potatoes or bread, we actually prefer to eat in full colour.

It turns out that the average British plate is actually covered with 25% green foods, 14% red, 13% brown and other bright colours like yellow or orange are both 7%. Brown foods still hold a place in our hearts and bellies, taking up 13% of our plates.

A balanced diet is a colourful diet

Our study found that 6 in 10 adults make a conscious effort to have a diet filled with a variety of colours, with women being more dedicated than men (68% vs 52%).

It also emerged that on an average day, Brits eat five different colours of food in total, although a fifth have seven or more. This could be a positive sign that shows all the messages about eating our “5 a day”, and following a balanced diet, have worked. We are more and more conscious about what we eat! 45% have said they’ve made a conscious effort to eat more food of a certain colour, with green among one of the most popular.

Whilst eating dark, green leafy vegetables is definitely healthy, eating nothing but broccoli or kale will not get you all the nutrients you need. So you have to mix it up and bulk up your plate with veg of different colours. Using frozen vegetables is a great way to get those nutrients and vitamins all year round.

Fussy eaters

We may be embracing colour, but there are still certain colours that put people off. 1 in 5 people will avoid purple foods, while 1 in 20 will stay away from anything orange coloured.

Don’t like the smell of a certain food? You’re not the only one to be negative with your nose: 58% of Brits saying that they’ve passed up on a plate of food because of the smell.

And the feel of food between our teeth is also key, with 4 in 10 passing over eating something because they weren’t convinced by the texture.

Birds Eye Food Colour Survey 3

Healthy associations

We were curious to see what people think of certain food colours, so it was no surprise to find out that over 80% consider green the healthiest of colours. However, just under half believe they eat the right amount of greens.

Bright, vibrant colours such as red, orange or yellow are also viewed as healthy. Interestingly enough, 27% of our male respondents think that white, black or brown foods are healthy.

And half of our respondents think that having a plate filled with lots of colours is more appetising.

Following a healthy, balanced diet means eating a variety of foods to make sure you’re getting all the nutrients, and the easiest trick is to eat in full colour! Choosing frozen veg is a great way to get those nutrients all year round and create colourful dishes.

Birds  Eye food colour survey 4