Spectrophotometric Evaluation of Honey Color Helps Boost Appeal
The color of honey can have a significant impact on consumer perception. | Image Source: Unsplash user Sonja Langford

It’s not often that the intrigue and specter of criminal activity enter the honey world. However, when it comes to manuka honey, it’s a different story. Manuka honey, derived from the manuka tree, is one of the rarest and valuable kinds of honey in the world. Renowned for its touted medicinal properties and rich, complex flavor, manuka honey fetches significantly higher prices than standard honey, spurring the emergence of a global counterfeiting industry.

 

Approximately 1,700 tons of manuka honey are produced annually in New Zealand, “representing almost all the world’s production.” Yet 10,000 tons of honey product labeled as manuka is being sold each year around the world, with 1,800 of those tons sold in the UK alone.1 The problem has become so widespread that specialized testing methodologies have now been developed to differentiate between true manuka honey and counterfeit or adulterated versions.2 These authentication methods have the potential to save the honey industry (and consumers) millions of dollars each year. But until global implementation of such testing is realized, large-scale counterfeiting is likely to continue.

 

The primary way manuka consumers seek to identify manuka honey is by color. The product is known for its creamy to dark brown hues, hinting at its strong, distinctive flavor. As such, replicating this color is imperative to passing off counterfeits as the real deal. This may be done using a variety of methods, including adding syrups or other colorants to lighter kinds of honey to approximate the distinctive appearance of manuka. It is perhaps the strongest example of how valuable honey color can be and why color standards matter.

 

 

A Matter of Color

 

Manuka honey is not the only honey customers primarily evaluate based on color. In fact, honey color is perhaps the most important variable in guiding consumer choices, as it ostensibly hints at the flavor one can expect from the product. As Aubert and Gonnet wrote as early as 1986, “A very dark-colored honey is suggestively associated with a very flavored product, while a light-colored honey suggests more subtle and refined fragrances.”3 However, these assumptions are not always consistent. Indeed, “The link between the color and flavor of honey is often accidental.”

 

Despite the accidental nature of this link, consumers tend to have strong preferences when it comes to honey color. These are the result of both individual and cultural tastes. For example, American consumers tend to prefer lighter colored honeys while German, Swiss, and Austrians often prefer darker varieties.4 This, however, may be changing with the emergence of artisanal honeys and increased interest in rare and novel food products.5 Additionally, while color is not a perfect predictor of flavor, it can be an important indictor of quality. Color that deviates from expectations may indicate the intentional or unintentional addition of additives, processing errors, or contamination.

 

Honey can range from the palest white to rich amber. | Image Source: Pexels user Pixabay

The Honey Color Scale

 

In order to evaluate honey color in a standardized way, the USDA has developed a specialized classification system consisting of seven categories, ranging from water white to dark amber.6 This color scale is used across the industry to help producers determine whether their honey is meeting aesthetic expectations as well as allowing for meaningful comparisons between product appearances. While honey color does not factor into USDA quality grading, it is an important tool for honey producers as they seek to create aesthetically desirable products that meet the demands of today’s consumers.

 

Traditionally, the color of honey has been evaluated using a Pfund color grader, a glass wedge whose color ranges from light to dark. “The honey is placed in a wedge-shaped container and compared to the scale, and the place where the color matches is measured from one end of the wedge.”7 Today, a number of companies offer their own color grading apparatuses that also rely on visual comparison of honey to color samples. These methods are inherently subjective, as factors such as ambient light, perceptual differences between observers, and even slight color variations in color grading equipment can interfere with an accurate assessment.

honey in jars
Customers in different geographic locations have different honey preferences. Image Credit: Flickr User Jason Reidy

 

Toward Objective Honey Color Analysis

 

In order to overcome the challenges posed by visual inspection, an increasing number of honey producers are turning to spectrophotometric analysis. These high-tech instruments allow you to capture objective color information to accurately determine a product’s place on the honey color scale. Additionally, this precise data may be used to ensure batch-to-batch consistency, guaranteeing that each product is of similar quality.

 

The versatile optical geometries of spectrophotometers mean that they are capable of analyzing the appearance of both liquid and solid kinds of honey. Additionally, the ability to capture both transmitted and reflected color means that spectrophotometric instrumentation makes it possible to analyze a full product range at every step of manufacturing with the same instrument. As Rachel Stothard writes, “Having a machine that can accommodate both measurements means quality analysis can be as versatile as the product.”[“How to Measure the Color of Honey”, July 16, 2015, http://www.colourmeasure.com/knowledge-base/2015-07-16-how-to-measure-the-colour-of-honey]

 

But spectrophotometers also allow you to go beyond color measurement. In addition to hue, the clarity of honey is one of the primary determinants of both visual appeal and product quality. In fact, clarity accounts for 10% of the USDA’s quality rating of filtered honey. The current classification system is based on “the apparent transparency or clearness of honey to the eye and to the degree of freedom from air bubbles, pollen grains, or other fine particles of any materials suspected in the product.” By integrating haze measurement in honey quality assessment, producers can easily determine product clarity. This information can be invaluable in identifying problematic process variables as well as evaluating new process variables as you seek to improve clarity. Today’s sophisticated spectrophotometers allow you to capture both haze and color measurement with a single instrument and even with a single measurement.

 

HunterLab Quality

 

HunterLab has been a pioneer in the field of color measurement for over 60 years. Today, we offer a comprehensive range of fine spectrophotometric instruments designed to help our customers obtain the critical data they need to evaluate the quality of their products and optimize consumer appeal. Our analytical tools provide simple and accurate methods for determining honey color and haze in a variety of user-friendly formats. Contact us to learn more about our innovative spectrophotometers, customizable software packages, and world-class customer support services and let us help you select the perfect instrument for you.

 

  1. “Food Fraud Buzz Over Fake Manuka Honey”, August 26, 2013, http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/food-fraud-buzz-over-fake-manuka-honey/news-story/e58d5d067d615b20c71bd04864f4397c
  2. “New Tests Confirm New Zealand Manuka Honey is For Real”, May 16, 2017, http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/92636284/new-tests-confirm-new-zealand-manuka-honey-is-for-real
  3. “Color Grading of Honey”, 1986, http://www.fiitea.org/foundation/files/1986/S.%20AUBERT,%20M.%20GONNET.pdf
  4. “Honey Color Facts: Plus Our Favorite Honey”, December 2, 2013, http://besthoneysite.com/honey-color/
  5. “Marketers Wax Enthusiastic Over Bees and Honey”, October 15, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/16/business/media/marketers-wax-enthusiastic-over-bees-and-honey.html
  6. “United States Standards for Grades of Extracted Honey”, May 23, 1985, http://www.honey.com/images/downloads/exhoney.pdf
  7. “The Color of Honey”, June 22, 2010, https://honeybeesuite.com/the-color-of-honey/
Spectrophotometers Identify Counterfeit Pharmaceuticals With Color Measurement

The World Health Organization (WHO) in 2012 estimated that the global market for counterfeit pharmaceuticals generated $431 billion in gross annual revenues1 for purveyors of those fake products. Since then, WHO has stopped estimating the counterfeit industry’s revenues because of the difficulties in tracking fake prescription drugs. WHO is quick to note that the counterfeit pharmaceutical problem is not confined to developing countries with lax regulations. In 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) seized more than $73 million worth of counterfeit drugs, and since 2010, the FDA has tracked and recorded more than 1,400 incidents of adverse reactions caused by counterfeit drugs2.   

 

pills
Counterfeit pharmaceutical products run rampant through internet pharmacies. Image Credit: Flickr User Carlos Lowry (CC BY 2.0)

 

The prevalence of internet pharmacies has elevated the problem to near epic proportions. WHO estimates that more than half of all pharmaceuticals sold over the Internet are counterfeit3. Consumers that buy cheap drugs online, even when their purchases are made from internet pharmacies that appear in every respect to be legitimate, are taking great risks with their own health and safety. Counterfeit pharmaceuticals might be compounded from ingredients that range from inert to harmful or adulterated. Consumers cannot be faulted for attempting to save money on prescription drugs, but they are ill-equipped to detect counterfeit products and inevitably they rely on manufacturers and regulatory authorities to keep the fakes off of the market.

 

At an extreme, regulators and pharmaceutical companies can implement plans to test batches of pharmaceuticals at various stages of the global supply chain with gas chromatography and other sophisticated technologies4. These technologies will distinguish genuine products from knockoffs, but their broad implementation is expensive and impractical. Moreover, local regulatory agencies and shipping inspectors will not have the resources or access to complex analytical tools to implement the kind of widespread screenings that are required to snag every counterfeit pharmaceutical product. A more practical option is to use portable spectrophotometers for rapid early screening of both the pharmaceuticals and their packaging as the first line of defense against counterfeit drugs.

 

Tylenol
Pharmaceutical companies can impede counterfeiters by publishing precise color profiles of their labels. Image Credit: Flickr User Austin Kirk (CC BY 2.0)

 

Color and Pharmaceutical Packaging

 

Legitimate pharmaceutical manufacturers use advanced packaging with holograms, bar codes, and other features to confirm that the enclosed products are real. Packaging color is as critical an indicator of legitimacy as these advanced features.

 

Consumers generally avoid products with inconsistent or dubious packaging5, but consumers that purchase pharmaceuticals from internet pharmacies do not have the luxury of picking and choosing. Counterfeiters might take advantage of this by using cheaper printing and packaging materials. This leaves an opening for a legitimate manufacturer to publish a color profile for its own packaging. Screeners and regulators can then use portable spectrophotometers to measure a pharmaceutical product’s packaging for comparison against a manufacturer’s standard color profile. Any differences will be a first marker of counterfeiting that the regulator can then use to flag a batch for more advanced testing and verification.

 

Drug Color Consistency

 

Counterfeiters are becoming more adept at replicating the appearance of legitimate drugs, but subtle color differences between real and fake drugs are still a strong indication of a counterfeit product. Strict FDA standards on drug production result in products that have identical colors and appearances from batch to batch. Even more so than with pharmaceutical packaging, manufacturers can create color profiles for each of their products. They can then use portable spectrophotometers for quality control and assurance during a manufacturing process. Regulators can also use these devices to sample drug products in supply chains in order to weed out any products that are outside of that profile. Without their own spectrophotometers, counterfeiters will be unable to precisely match the exact profiles of the drugs they are emulating. Certain spectrophotometers can detect differences on UV wavelengths, which would be invisible to the naked eye. This makes color profiles even more difficult to fake without instrumental aid.

 

Using HunterLab’s Devices to Detect Counterfeit Drugs

 

HunterLab has long been at the forefront of providing appearance and color testing instrumentation to the pharmaceutical industry.  To measure both opaque substances at UV wavelengths, regulators can use the UltraScan Vis or Pro.

To learn more about which instrument would be ideal for your production process, contact our friendly, professional sales force today.

  1. “Deadly fake Viagra: Online pharmacies suspected of selling counterfeit drugs,” 2015,  http://www.cnn.com/2015/08/31/health/counterfeit-medications/
  2. “Counterfeit Drugs Are Flooding the Nation’s Pharmacies And Hospitals,” 2016, http://www.aarp.org/health/drugs-supplements/info-2016/counterfeit-prescription-drugs-rx.html
  3. “Rise in online pharmacies sees counterfeit drugs go global,” 2015, http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(15)00394-3/fulltext?rss%3Dyes
  4. “Countering the Problem of Falsified and Substandard Drugs,” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK202524/
  5. “Combat counterfeiting with packaging design and color consistency,” 2016, http://www.packagingdigest.com/packaging-design/combat-counterfeiting-with-packaging-design-and-color-consistency-2016-02-17
Mouthwash Manufacturers Rely on Spectrophotometers for Color Quality Control to Ensure Brand Consistency

The color of mouthwash has nothing to do with its efficacy. It is not the byproduct of any medicinal ingredients or flavors, nor do mouthwashes of different colors vary in substance. So why do mouthwash manufacturers bother adding coloration to their recipes? Branding.

 

mouthwash on shelf in store
What color does your mouth smell like? Image Credit: Flickr User danjo paluska (CC BY 2.0)

 

Color Is Inextricable From Brand for Mouthwash Companies

 

The bright blues, greens, yellow, and purples of various mouthwashes are intended to differentiate similar products in the eyes of consumers. While they may have the same active ingredients, differently colored mouthwashes look like separate products. The colors of mouthwash brands are also linked to unique flavors and scents. This affects customer choice in a number of ways.

 

For new customers, bold, eye-catching colors attract attention and lend an impression of potency. Particularly strong colors can be linked unconsciously with strong effects. Also, most people have preferences for certain colors (I happen to like yellow and green). Without more compelling reasons to prefer a particular brand, customers may simply pick the color they like the best. Once they’ve picked this color, unless the product is unsatisfactory for some reason—which is doubtful, as one is much the same the other—they’re likely to pick the same color the next time. This preference will be reinforced by any perceived or actual differences in flavor or scent.

Swish mouthwash
Customers develop loyalties towards particular mouthwash colors. Image Credit: Flickr User the impulsivebuy (CC BY 2.0)

 

Quality Control Processes Assure Mouthwash Brand Consistency

 

This effect is lost if manufacturers alter the color of their products, or if their colors lack consistency from batch to batch. For these reasons, manufacturers employ stringent color quality control procedures at their production facilities. Samples of each batch, or enough batches to generate statistical reliability, are measured in test labs before the mouthwash is bottled. Measurement is done at this stage to prevent any extra loss of revenue in bottling materials, bottling machine energy, or delivery costs. Any variation detected at the test lab stage can be corrected by mixing in additional colorants while the mouthwash is still in the vat.

 

For this purpose, most manufacturers have long since jettisoned human observers. Even when comparing mouthwash samples to established standards, human observers are subjective in their analysis of color. Different observers can see different colors. Also, the same observer can see different colors based on lighting, sample size, and even mood. Given the large volumes of mouthwash produced, this subjectivity can result in inconsistent coloration, perhaps even in bottles sitting next to each other on the shelf. As color is such an important factor in consumer choice, this inconsistency could not be allowed to persist.

 

mouthwash
Color consistency is important when producing large volumes of mouthwash. Image Credit: Flickr User Jae-sun Gim (CC BY 2.0)

 

 

Transmission Spectrophotometers Offer Reliable, Objective Color Analysis

 

As a result, manufacturers have turned to spectrophotometers, objective color analysis instruments, to measure their mouthwash. These instruments report color results numerically, and their results are precise. This prevents any inconsistently colored batches from leaving the vat. Not every spectrophotometer measures color in the same way, which is why you should use a transmission spectrophotometer to accurately measures transparent liquids like mouthwash.

 

With over six decades of experience developing spectrophotometers for transparent liquids, HunterLab has engineered a series of solutions ideal for the mouthwash industry. For companies that only manufacture transparent liquids, like mouthwash, and wish to save space in their laboratory the Vista color and haze transmission spectrophotometer is a sound color measurement solution. Much smaller than earlier spectrophotometers, and more affordable, Vista is a top-of-the-line solution for transmission color analysis. For companies testing the color of mouthwash and other opaque liquids or solids, the UltraScan series of spectrophotometers is capable of reflectance and transmittance measurement. While larger than Vista, UltraScan spectrophotometers eliminate the need for a separate instrument to test the color quality of the company’s opaque products. To learn more about which instrument would be ideal for your production process, contact our friendly, professional sales force today.

 

Spectrophotometric Color Measurement Assures Milk Quality and Safety

My great-grandfather owned and operated a small dairy farm in Vermont, and so I grew up hearing stories about dairy cows. His father before him had owned the farm, and so he grew up milking, feeding, and otherwise tending the dozen or so cows they kept at any given time. Through all this, he apparently got to know these cows very, very well—the way a sommelier knows their wine, the way a falconer knows their birds. He would, of course, drink their milk every day, and would amaze my grandmother by drinking a glass and saying things like “Buttercup’s in a good mood today,” or “Dandelion’s been out in the brambles, you should check her for ticks.” According to my grandmother, the old man’s milk-sense was never, ever wrong. If you gave him a cup of Ballerina’s milk and told him it was Bluebird’s, he’d take one look at it, then tell you-you were a liar. The man knew his milk.

 

cow
Buttercup says moo. Image Credit: Flickr User U.S. Department of Agriculture (CC BY 2.0)

 

Milk Color Factors into Consumer Choice and Brand Identity

 

Dairy farming isn’t the same as it used to be. There aren’t many dairy farmers left who can tell the cow from the milk. But what hasn’t changed is that a good look at a glass of milk can tell a person a great deal about that milk’s properties. Food safety regulations have proliferated prodigiously since my great-grandfather’s time. As a result, putting milk to the test isn’t just a farmer’s pastime anymore. It’s an essential element of the quality control processes of any milk producer.

 

The color of milk is important to producers for a number of reasons. Most directly, milk color is an important factor in consumer’s buying decisions. If a milk appears unusually colored to a customer, they will likely conclude that something has gone wrong with it and choose a different carton. This, then, becomes a question of brand identity as well. Customers who notice off-color milk from a specific brand will be less likely to purchase from the same producer at a later date. One bad carton of milk can have a ripple effect, disturbing a producer’s sales on an ongoing basis.

 

jug of milk
Off-color milk can drive consumers away from your brand. Image Credit: Flickr User Health Gauge (CC BY 2.0)

 

Instrumental Color Measurement Detects Milk Spoilage

 

Furthermore, discolored milk is indicative of age and spoilage1. As milk sits in storage, even at refrigerator temperatures, psychrotrophic bacteria that survived pasteurization can multiply and spoil the milk. Color can also indicate acidification2 of stored milk, as well as the effects of light-induced oxidation.

 

Severe cases of discoloration can be detected by the naked eye. Moderate discoloration can be detected by the trained eye, like my great-grandfather’s. The beginning stages of discoloration are subtle enough to go unnoticed until the spoilage has become more advanced. No matter what the stage, human observation is subjective. This poses difficulties when creating scales and standards to assess the changes in milk color.

 

As a result, many milk producers have turned to spectrophotometers. These color measurement instruments can quickly and accurately identify a milk sample’s color. Then they assign it a numerical value that can be repeatedly compared to an established standard or other samples. This allows for a greater level of control over the quality of milk products. Even companies operating facilities on opposite ends of the country can be certain their milk all measures up to the same, established standard.

 

Reflectance Spectrophotometry Ideal for Milk Measurement

 

While many methods of spectroscopy exist—raman, NIR, and transmission, to name a few—the milk’s color can be verified with one of the simplest: reflectance. Exactly like it sounds, a reflectance spectrophotometer bounces light off an opaque liquid (or solid) and measures the wavelengths of the light that is reflected back. Doing so permits an operator to observe color on many scales, including CIE L*a*b*. Milk samples measured this way can be compared to pre-programmed standards. This allows operators to quickly and simply discover any deviations from the appropriate color.

 

With over six decades of experience developing reflectance spectrophotometers to measure opaque liquids, HunterLab has honed its products to precisely match the needs of milk producers. Not only do our instruments generate fast, accurate measurement results, our sample holders are designed to accommodate your vials and cuvettes. To learn more about how spectrophotometers can help milk producers keep their milk up to standard, contact our friendly, professional sales force today.

 

 

  1. “Characteristics of Milk,” http://www4.ncsu.edu/~adpierce/u03_characteristics_milk.pdf
  2. “Color Changes of UHT Milk During Storage,” 2008, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3705541/
Spectrophotometric Monitoring of Color Consistency Solidifies Brand Identity
camera
Choosing the right color palette for your brand can be vita l to your success. Image Source: Flickr user peace6x

 

Color is all around us. It is part of virtually everything we see, informing our experiences day in and day out in. And on January 20, 2017, the politicians in Washington D.C. wanted to inform your experience of them. Trump in his red tie, Obama with his in blue, Hillary, Ivanka, and Tiffany in white, Michelle in crimson, and, of course, Melania in her sky blue. These colors weren’t accidents, but deliberate choices driven in part by the desire to shape public perception using color psychology.

 

“Colors and brands are very important [for all politicians],” says Dr. Dong Shen, professor of Fashion Merchandising and Design at California State University.1 Shen explains that the inaugural color choices, particularly for the women, were designed to tap into our shared sense of meaning, one that goes beyond red for Republican, blue for Democrat. Melania’s blue, she believes, symbolizes loyalty and trust, while Michelle’s red reflects fire, passion, and sensitivity, although her choice of a more subdued crimson shade signals that she is no longer center stage. Purity was the message sent by Ivanka and Tiffany’s whites while Hillary’s was one of healing. Through their respective shades, these women invited us to see them in particular ways, introducing (or re-introducing) us to their “brands” and sending us messages about their values and identities.

 

Clothing, however, can be changed. If you make a misstep you can just try something new next time. Choosing the right color to introduce a product brand is a far more complex operation, which is why companies go to great lengths to select appropriate color palettes for their brands. “Color is one of the biggest factors that marketers and designers take into account,” says Rose Leadem of Entrepreneur. 2 Color allows you to speak for your product without saying a word, offering a way of instantly “conveying meaning and message” to connect to consumers on a deeply visceral level.3 And deploying color psychology is no easy task; as Leadem explains, “Perception of color can change based on a person’s age, gender, personality, income, and other factors, which means marketers must understand who their target audience is and how they wish the brand to be perceived.” This often means countless hours of research, design work, and testing in order to come up with the right shades.

 

But choosing the perfect color palette for your brand is only the first step. The colors chosen must be reproduced exactly again and again in order to create a cohesive brand identity and fortify that identity through repeated exposure to consumers. Spectrophotometric color measurement is a vital part of that process, ensuring perfect color matching regardless of the material with which you are working.

 

The Importance of Reproduction

 

Color is widely recognized as the most important aspect of a product’s branding materials, as it is the one that is most readily remembered by consumers and instrumental in guiding consumer perception. Iconic brands have perfected this art by creating a strong color scheme. They do this by exposing the public to that scheme again and again and again, until the colors and brands become interchangeable. McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, and Tiffany & Co. have all been wildly successful in this endeavor and can be identified based on color alone in the same way we can identify a Louboutin shoe by its red sole. The colors themselves have become icons, standing in for the brand as a whole – it’s not just red, it’s Coca-Cola red. It’s not just robin’s egg blue, it’s Tiffany blue. Recognizability, then, depends on exact color reproduction to cement the relationship between the product and color in the minds of both current and potential customers. In order to strengthen that connection and encourage instant identification, your chosen shade must be represented each and every time the consumer encounters your product regardless of what form that encounter takes, whether it’s on product labeling and packaging, advertising, or signage.

 

coke bottles
Spectrophotometric color measurements gives you the highest level of insight into color behavior, allowing you to match color and appearance in disparate media. Image Source: Flickr user SoxFanInSD

 

Creating Color Consistency

 

Historically, color consistency has primarily been evaluated via visual inspection. However, the human eye is inherently a subjective evaluator, prone to inaccuracies that compromise the ability to maintain truly consistent color. Spectrophotometers, however, offer a sophisticated, objective way of capturing color information without the vulnerabilities inherent to the human eye. As such, companies across industries rely on spectrophotometric instrumentation to monitor color behavior throughout the production process, ensuring batch-to-batch and lot-to-lot consistency.

 

But what is truly remarkable about spectrophotometers for the purpose of branding isn’t just that they measure color in one type of material. Rather, spectrophotometers are capable of measuring color and appearance in all material forms, allowing you to create color consistency across media with disparate optical properties. From flat, matte papers to translucent plastic films, spectrophotometers offer a range of optical geometries to ensure you have the ability to analyze color quality and product appearance across your entire product line and throughout your packaging and marketing materials. Sophisticated software packages like Easymatch QC facilitate this process, giving you the data you need to produce exact color matches and instantly alerting you to unwanted variations. As a result, you are easily able to quarantine any defective product that may compromise your color/brand strategy and prevent its release into the marketplace.

 

The HunterLab Difference

 

HunterLab has been a pioneer in the field of color measurement for over 60 years. Throughout that time, our advanced technologies have helped our customers create and solidify their brand identities through smart and consistent use of color. Today, we offer a comprehensive range of spectrophotometers capable of analyzing virtually any material performing in even the most challenging conditions. Contact us to learn more about our renowned instruments, customizable software packages, and world-class customer support services.

 

  1. “The Color Psychology Behind Inauguration Fashion”, January 21, 2017, http://www.abc10.com/news/local/the-psychology-behind-behind-inauguration-fashion/389407249
  2. “The Role of Color in Branding”, December 10, 2016, https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/286324
  3. “Color & Branding”, 2012, https://www.colormatters.com/color-and-marketing/color-and-branding
Spectrophotometers Help Control Deodorant and Antiperspirant Stick Color Consistency

For the last thirty-five years, my aunt and uncle have been building a life and love together. By now, their patterns are long established. Settled and in their grooves, they resist any change that might disturb their comfortable routines. The last time I visited was evidence of this; I listened to them argue for a solid hour over a stick of deodorant. My uncle insisted that my aunt bought the wrong stick. My aunt insisted it was the same. My uncle disagreed. My aunt refused to go back to the store. My uncle refused to put on the deodorant. My aunt insisted he use the deodorant because it was the same. My uncle insisted it wasn’t, and that if my aunt wanted him to wear deodorant, she needed to go back to the store to get the right kind. My aunt refused but insisted he wear the deodorant. They repeated these points until it was time for lunch.

 

Deodorants on a shelf
Instead of choosing from dozens of brands every time they go to the store, customers often default to the same deodorant over and over again. Image Credit: Flickr User Clean Wal-Mart (CC BY 2.0)

 

Color Consistency Is Essential to Maintaining Deodorant Brand Loyalty

 

Consistency is important to people purchasing consumable products. Over the course of years of repeated purchases, customers grow accustomed to the particular brand they’re used to purchasing. They know which stick of deodorant they like. Instead of making a new decision every time they go to the store, they choose the same stick over and over again.

 

For deodorant manufacturers, this is a double-edged sword. Cutting one way, this means that brand loyalty will be strong and that customers can recur for decades. Cutting the other way, this means that the product must always be consistent. Changes to the formula of a deodorant or antiperspirant stick will be noticed by consumers. If the product they’re purchasing no longer seems to be the product they like, they may rethink their decision and switch to a different brand.

 

Manufacturers are aware that the color of a stick of solid deodorant is determined by the addition of a few colorants late in the mixing process, and that it has little to do with the efficacy of the product. The average customer, however, only sees the finished product, not the process. To them, a difference in a stick’s color is more noticeable than other changes in formula, and an indicator that other changes may also have occurred. In short, to a customer, two sticks of deodorant that are exactly the same except for color are two entirely different sticks.

 

woman putting on deodorant
Not all customers understand the intricacies of the formulation—or usage—of deodorant & antiperspirant. Image Credit: Flickr User Toby Bradbury (CC BY 2.0)

 

Spectrophotometers Deliver Repeatable Color Quality Control Results

 

So, color consistency is a serious concern for manufacturers of solid deodorants and antiperspirants. That’s why rigorous color quality control and quality assurance processes have been implemented across the industry. In company quality control laboratories, manufacturers test each batch of deodorant with spectrophotometers to ensure that the final color meets standards before it is shipped. They also conduct quality assurance studies using spectrophotometers to ensure that their processes consistently result in correctly colored deodorant.

 

Spectrophotometers are essential instruments for color quality control. By measuring light reflected off opaque substances, such as deodorant, they can generate objective, repeatable reports on that substance’s color. These instruments are significantly more effective than human observers. Human observation is subjective, varying from person to person and from day to day. Humans can also be thrown off by differences in lighting, which spectrophotometers control for with standard illumination settings. Finally, while humans lack specific language for describing small color differences, spectrophotometers generate numerical results. These numerical descriptions allow manufacturers to establish precise tolerances for acceptable deodorant color, that are repeatable across an enterprise and over decades.

 

With over 65 years of experience developing spectrophotometers to measure the color of deodorant and other products, HunterLab intimately understands the industry’s demands. Whether you’re considering upgrading outdated color measurement technology or improving your color quality control process, HunterLab has the experience, tools, and knowledge to help. To learn more, contact the color measurement experts today.

 

Coffee Roasters Can Use Spectrophotometers to Determine Color on SCAA Roast Scale

My sense of taste lacks distinction. I get the broad tastes alright—sweet, bitter, savory, sour—but after that, it’s all greek. As a result, I tend to doubt that the differences in flavor the informal sommeliers of my acquaintance swoon over are as strong in the mouth as they are in their minds. So, when my friend told me he could taste the difference between cups of coffee so distinctly that he could match a series of cups to their respective beans, I said, “prove it.” That weekend, we brewed eight cups of coffee from eight different roasters. I kept a bean from each bag for him to match the cup with. After a short sip from each cup down the line, he puzzled for a minute, tried a few cups a second time, then matched the cups to the beans. He got them all right. “How did you do that?” I asked him after I settled the cash side of our wager. He was, of course, only too happy to tell me—at length.

 

coffee beans
The color of coffee gives clues to its flavor profile. Image credit: Flickr user Olle Svensson (CC BY 2.0)

 

The Color of Coffee Can Display its’ Flavor Profile

 

The color of a coffee bean can say a lot. Different colors come from different roast durations. Minute differences in roast can have outsize effects on coffee’s flavor, acidity, body, and aftertaste1  So, determining the exact color of a coffee bean after a roast can tell a manufacturer a great deal about what the coffee will taste like.

 

For the average coffee drinker, telling a coffee’s attributes from the color of its roast is a neat party trick,  It’s a way to show off to their friends that they’ve read about the eight strictly defined SCA color grades, Very Light to Very Dark—a way to build up self-esteem. In short, the stakes are low. For a manufacturer, however, the SCA color grades are their brand. It’s why people buy their coffee. Keeping color consistent is essential to retaining customers. In short, the stakes are high.

 

unroasted coffee beans
Coffee beans are green, and without much flavor, before being roasted. Image Credit: Flickr User Jessica Spengler (CC BY 2.0)

 

 

SCAA Scale Is Used to Classify the Colors of Coffee

 

That’s why coffee roasters rely on the SCCA scale to rate the color of their beans during the production process. By matching the color of a bean to a printed sample, they can determine within a reasonable margin of error whether each batch has been properly roasted.

 

This method has its drawbacks, however. To start, exact color matches are difficult between textured materials. The differences in surface texture of coffee beans and vinyl printouts affect human color perception. Also, human beings are inherently subjective at assessing color. Color perception differs between different observers, or even between the same observer at different times of day. Sample preparation and measurement can cost manufacturers valuable time if they are not done properly. Saving data from tests takes up even more time, as it must be initially recorded and then entered into one or more data storage systems.

 

Spectrophotometers Can Measure Coffee on the Agtron Scale

 

To correct this, many coffee roasters have turned to using the HunterLab ColorFlexEZ Coffee spectrophotometers to determine the color of their roasted beans. These instruments measure color with extreme precision and can be delivered programmed to display their results according to the SCAA scale. HunterLab even invented the HCCI (Hunter Color Coffee Index), with input from roasters worldwide, to improve upon the SCAA scale.  By using instrumental measurement, they eliminate the subjectivity inherent in human observers. The data can be transferred easily from these machines to a central location, such as a hard drive or the cloud. The machines take fast, reliable measurements, and samples can be quickly prepared, and a single measurement can report the SCAA number, Roast Classification, and HCCI number.

 

HunterLab has over 65 years experience developing spectrophotometers for industry use. Working extensively with coffee roasters, we’ve developed the ideal instrumental solution for coffee color analysis, the ColorFlex EZ Coffee Spectrophotometer. To learn more about how the ColorFlex can help keep your roasts consistent, contact the experts at HunterLab today.