Health, convenience and sustainability are key trends in the food market, which researchers expect to continue to gain in importance. So it’s no wonder that more and more manufacturers are advertising their products as “Free of preservatives, food coloring and artificial flavors.” Consumers are paying more attention to what they buy, and to the ingredients. But since the appearance of a food product is very important in the purchase decision, clean label colorants are more and more in demand. This is a trend that Michael Scheinert, product manager at Sternchemie in Hamburg, a company that specializes in lipids, can confirm: “As consumer health awareness grows, our customers are more and more interested in red palm oil.” This natural, vitamin-rich oil gives many different foods a golden-yellow to orange-red color.
Food color is a subject that underscores a major sales factor in food—enjoyment. Eating is a sensual experience involving sight as well as taste. Grey margarines, white vanilla pudding, or pale crisps or chips would not be popular with consumers. Red palm oil makes it possible to combine enjoyment and health. The oil is derived from the flesh of the palm fruits, whose high carotene content gives them an intensive red color.
According to Michael Scheinert, “Our SternRed palm oil is refined by a patented physical process, which lets our cooperation partner in Malaysia produce a virgin palm oil that is free of chemical additives.” Since the process takes place at low temperatures, the oil retains its high levels of carotenoids and vitamin E complexes, which also have a positive influence on the shelf-life. As natural antioxidants, the vitamins protect the oil from going rancid, so that it keeps longer. Another plus is that the gentle processing means that SternRed has no trans fats.
This red palm oil is color and heat-stable, flavor-neutral, and can be used as a problem-free substitute for synthetic colorings like beta-carotene. It also offers price advantages over other colorant ingredients like carrot extract. When used for deep-frying it gives crisps and chips a golden-yellow coloring. It also gives an appetizing color to cakes and biscuits, desserts, ready meals and pasta, margarines, mayonnaise and dressings. The big advantage is that red palm oil need only be declared in the ingredients as vegetable oil, making it very declaration-friendly. As a natural product it also has a positive image. In some European markets red palm oil is still not familiar to consumers, but it is already being termed a “healthy oil” on many health portals. In terms of sustainability SternRed also meets the high expectations of consumers, with RSPO certification.