Edible Glitter: A Sparkling Example of Food Innovation

By Watson Team
Published on December 12th, 2019

You've probably heard that we “eat with our eyes” first. Color, in particular, influences everything from consumer purchasing behavior to taste expectations to overall enjoyment of the eating or drinking experience. Learn how you can tap into this phenomenon with innovative, eye-catching edible glitter to create foods and beverages that sparkle with color!

Multi-Sensory Foods and Beverages

The emerging trend in multi-sensory foods and beverages has put a spotlight on the senses that are secondary to taste and smell—such as sight, sound, and touch—that can heighten the overall sensory impact of a product and create an exciting and memorable experience for the consumer.

Foods and beverages that can engage more of the senses have particular appeal to Millennials (who rate high on culinary adventure-seeking), children (who delight in fun and interactive foods), and snackers (who often choose to snack as a way to treat themselves). These products offer uniquely engaging experiences that can provide a competitive advantage, contribute to brand loyalty, and drive repeat purchases.

How to Use Edible Glitter in Foods and Beverages

One of the easiest ways to boost the sensory experience of a food or beverage is to add a pop of color. Edible glitter can add both color and sparkle as a topping (e.g., on a snack cake or children’s cereal) or inclusion (e.g., in a lollipop or chewing gum). Fun and festive, edible glitter can transform a traditional product into a showstopper on the store shelf.

Edible glitter is also a valuable tool in creating seasonal products to generate additional sales. Cookies can be topped with red edible glitter to make a Valentine’s Day line extension or green for St. Patrick’s Day. In addition, any product topped with sprinkles provides an opportunity for cost reduction by swapping sprinkles for edible glitter. The thin, lightweight edible glitter flakes allow for a lower usage rate to achieve the same coverage.

Edible glitter can even be used in places where sprinkles can’t, such as on popcorn and cereal. The top applications for edible glitter are:

  • Cookies and cakes

  • Muffins and donuts

  • Breakfast cereals

  • Popcorn and chips

  • Hard and soft candies

  • Chewing gum

  • Chocolates

  • Puddings and gelatin desserts

  • Ice cream and yogurt

  • Beverages

What Is Edible Glitter?

Edible glitter is a product of innovative food technology. Essentially, edible glitter is an edible film infused with color. The base is a gum—such as gum arabic, alginate, or hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (depending on the desired properties)—to which food-grade colors are added. If a metallic appearance is desired, a mica-based pearlescent pigment can be included to create a metallic edible glitter. Edible glitter can be formed into a standard glitter flake or a variety of fun shapes, such as hearts or ghosts for the holidays.

Unlike sprinkles, edible glitter does not contain sugar or flavor. This makes it suitable for a wider variety of products, including savory products. Edible glitter is also free from partially hydrogenated oils, waxes, and starches, which results in a cleaner label than sprinkles, plus a much shorter ingredient list.

Sparkling Specifications

The versatility of edible glitter gives it broad appeal across food and beverage applications. Edible glitter is stable under a variety of processing conditions and can be made with varying physical properties to produce the color, size, shape, and even solubility desired. Edible glitter’s most notable features include:

  • Heat stable up to 450 F

  • Freeze-thaw stable

  • FD&C, EU, and natural colors

  • Metallic and custom colors 

  • Soluble and insoluble forms

  • Range of flake sizes

  • Standard or decorative shapes—such as stars, hearts, and emojis!

Give Them Something to Celebrate

In today’s highly competitive food and beverage market, consumers have more options than ever. It’s time to consider giving consumers more than just delicious products. Give them a dazzling experience with edible glitter! And you’ll discover that all that glitters is, in fact, gold.