Food Ingredients First – Natural Colors

Natural Colors are created or extracted from edible sources like vegetables, fruits, seeds and minerals to be used in food or beverage applications. They give artificial, chemical dyes a run for their money with a multitude of beautiful shades and hues that can be found in nature’s bounty, from the humble turmeric to the rich purple of a mulberry.

Natural colors are becoming more popular as consumers seek products that are free from artificial and synthetic colors but still meet quality, stability and sustainability standards. Natural color producers support the clean label movement with a range of high quality, stable colors that are derived from plant sources. Food Ingredients First spoke with representatives from ADM, Givaudan and Sensient Colors to learn more about the trends in this area of the industry and some of the challenges faced by manufacturers that are trying to meet these consumer demands while meeting strict government regulations.

The trend towards natural color sources is being driven by a desire for food manufacturers to offer more clean labels and a perception among consumers that natural colors are safer than synthetic coloring agents. However, the choice of natural color also depends on the product category. For example, a natural red dye derived from annatto will not work in a frozen dessert or a natural blue may not be stable enough for use in a dairy-based application.

Additionally, some naturally derived color ingredients, such as anthocyanins (color compounds found in purple sweet potato and blue corn) are sensitive to pH and may shift to different colors in different foods or drinks.

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