How Neutral Coloured Backgrounds Affect the Attractiveness and Expensiveness of Fresh Produce


Vegetables, Food presentation, Retail design, Colour assimilation, Colour, contrast Simultaneous contrast


The colour of the background on which products are presented may affect their perceived attractiveness. In order to find out on which type of background various fresh food products look most attractive, we presented five different vegetables (tomato, carrot, yellow bell pepper, eggplant, mushroom) on five different backgrounds with neutral grey colours varying in degree of blackness: 5, 30, 50, 65, and 90%. Forty-six participants provided colour matches for the vegetables and evaluated them on 10 attributes.

Overall, the blackness of the backgrounds had little or no effect on the perceived colour of the vegetable. Only for carrots we found a small but significant difference, mainly between the 5% and 90% blackness backgrounds. On the darkest background, the carrot would be perceived as a bit lighter, more saturated, and more yellow rather than red, compared to the lightest background.

Differences in perceived attractiveness on the grey backgrounds varied between 0.3 and 1.0 units on a 9-point scale. Attractiveness and expensiveness ratings for most vegetables were highest on the 90% blackness background. In comparison to our previous study where we presented vegetables on hued backgrounds, differences between mean attractiveness ratings were smaller. Because mean attractiveness ratings in the current study were higher, we expect that grey backgrounds are more likely to present vegetable assortments with a variety of hues in an attractive way than hued backgrounds.

Original Publication Citation

1) Howell, B., & Shifferstein, H. (2019). How Neutral Coloured Backgrounds Affect the Attractiveness and Expensiveness of Fresh Produce. Journal of Food Quality and Preference,

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Food Quality and Preference




Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology



University Standing at Time of Publication

Associate Professor