Marketing foods by colour to reinforce their health credentials is set to be the next big trend for product manufacturers, Mintel has forecast.

The trend for 'coloured foods' has become a craze in Japan and other Far East countries in recent years, with Kellogg's and McVitie's among the major brands cashing in. But now the trend has broken into Europe for the first time with two Italian product launches from Parmalat and Findus.

In July, Parmalat launched its Santal 5 Colours range, featuring five coloured juices each made of fruits of the same colour, such as Natural Red Mix with pomegranate, red oranges and elderberries - all rich in polyphenols. Findus launched its That's Amore Colours To Live Better range in March, including Cremosa Viola, a purple cream soup with red chicory that is naturally rich in anthocyanins.

The products contain no artificial colours, instead using the natural colours of ingredients to highlight health benefits.

"Certain coloured ingredients are associated with health benefits, such as black and purple foods said to be rich in anti-coagulants," said Mintel consultant Carla Ogeia.

"Nutrition by colour could well be a new trend in Europe with these new product launches, especially after the success in Japan," said Ogeia.

Brands that had cashed in on the trend in Asia, she added, included McVitite's with purple potato digestive biscuits. They contain purple sweet potato, which is rich in antioxidants. Kellogg's also offers a black sesame seed cereal and black soybean variant in South Korea, which contain high levels of calcium, protein, iron and magnesium to help liver and kidney functions.

Ogeia said there had been a move towards "natural nutrition", with people favouring 'naturally rich in' claims instead of 'enriched' or 'fortified'. Products with no additives and preservatives were currently dominating NPD, she added.