Vibrant violet: purple sweet potato is a hit with consumers

Never heard of purple sweet potato?

As the name suggests, purple sweet potato is a tuberous root vegetable that is often violet or lavender in colour, due to the high content of anthocyanin pigments – the same antioxidant that gives blueberries, red grapes and red cabbage their colour – and well reported health benefits.

It originated in the Asian tropics and has been consumed by humans since ancient times, however, since the advent of Instagram and social media its appeal has widened, primarily due to its photogenic nature.

In addition to its vibrant colour, the purple sweet potato also boasts a range of health boosting properties such as high levels of potassium, vitamin C and fibre, which explains its popularity in traditional medicines. The antioxidant, anthocyanin, is also thought to help to guard against cancer and cardiovascular disease. 

Eating with your eyes

Once upon a time the bright colour of the purple sweet potato would have been of little concern to those eating it – it may even have put some people off! In today’s social media-centric world, however, it has received a new lease of life as a highly trendy ingredient for 2018.

Increasingly, consumers are paying more attention to Instagrammable food and drinks, and are spending more time than ever browsing and uploading images of food, with 33% of UK 18-24 year olds using their social media accounts to post pictures of food. 

Research by Zizzi also found that 30 per cent of 18-35 year olds would avoid a restaurant if its Instagram presence was weak, and Waitrose research made similar findings, reporting that almost half of us take more care over preparing a dish if we think a photo might be taken of it, and nearly 40% claim to worry more about presentation than they did five years ago.

Purple power

In recent years, we’ve seen several colour led food trends hit the headlines, from green avocado to pink unicorn but 2018 has ushered in the year of purple, with Pantone declaring it the year of “Ultra Violet”.

Industries such as high street fashion, homeware and paint have always been quick to jump on board Pantone’s colour of the year, but 2018 seems to be the first time the food and beverage industries have done so, whether by coincidence or by design. The promotion by nutritionists and health ‘gurus’ of fruits and vegetables that are rich and deep in colour has also surely added to this gravitation towards purple. 

Waitrose has been one of the earliest adopters in the UK, and according to its Food and Drink report, the sales of purple products are on the rise. For example Purple Chantenay Carrots were a hit at Christmas with sales up 15 per cent on last year, sales of Purple Sweet Potato were up a huge 70 per cent this winter. 

As a result, it is introducing a number of new purple products to its shelves, including more purple potatoes, which expect to sell around 90 tonnes in 2018.  Not only are purple sweet potatoes popular among shoppers, but it is also emerging as a flavour and ingredient in a range of sweet and savoury convenience products! 

Global food & drink launches with purple sweet potato as a flavour [Mintel GNPD, 2018]

Purple potatoes are going mainstream in dessert café chains

Purple potatoes are not only featuring in the veg aisle, but can also be seen in ready-to-eat options and even cafés, particularly in Asia. Café Bora, a popular dessert chain in South Korea that recently expanded to Thailand and opened its first location in the U.S. last year, has begun to serve all purple desserts made from sweet purple potato!

Other examples of purple sweet potato appearing on dessert menus include Ultra Violet Purple Sweet Potato Series from Caffe Bene Malaysia, Purple Sweet Potato Collection from Au Bon Pain Thailand, Purple Parade from Mc Donald’s Thailand, Purple Sweet Potato Roll Cake from Starbucks Thailand, Purple Sweet Potato Milky Snow Mountain from Niceday Singapore and Purple Okinawan Sweet Potato Cheese Tart from Pablo Japan.

Inspiring applications

Our expert team has developed a brand new purple sweet potato flavour with a strong potato-like and sweet / caramelised profile to help customers stay on top of the trend.

As well as caramelised notes, our purple sweet potato flavour offers a rounded buttery note, along with floral and rosy notes.

The authentic, Asian flavour is heat stable, and can be applied to both sweet and savoury applications, including most food and drink categories:

  • Cream fillings for cookies and biscuits
  • Ice cream / desserts
  • Baked goods
  • Yogurt drinks
  • Beverages, including lattes
  • Snack seasonings
  • Soups
  • Sauces

Want to find out more about our purple sweet potato profile or order a sample? Please contact our Thai team [email protected] or by phone +66 (0)2 181 6710