Bright future for natural colors

Bright future for natural colors

Right now, around the world the market demand for natural colors in beverages and confectionery shows a strong growth. Indeed, the future in food and beverages colors looks bright, naturally bright.

The global beverage and confectionery industries are making a shift towards natural colors as more and more consumers associate natural products with superior quality. The rising preference for all natural colors is also fuelled by the increased awareness of food safety and health issues - consumers are demanding a natural and healthy alternative to the artificial variety.

Chr. Hansen has the natural alternatives
Since the early days of the 134-year old ingredients supplier’s life Chr. Hansen has been specializing in natural color solutions. Today’s Chr. Hansen—the global market leader in natural colors—offers a full color range for the food and beverage industries.

Thus, Chr. Hansen also offers natural alternatives to the six synthetic colors which the British Food Standards Agency (FSA) have recently urged UK food manufacturers to phase out due to the findings of the “Southampton study” published in The Lancet in September 2007. The study concludes that the synthetic colors can aggravate hyperactivity in children.

Since the study was published many manufacturers have been replacing artificial colors with natural versions and this shift may increase as forty-two organizations across Europe have recently called for the EU Commission to ban the artificial colors in question: tartrazine (E102), quinoline yellow (E104), sunset yellow (E110), carmoisine (E122), ponceau 4R (E124) and allura red (E129). The organizations supporting a ban on the “purely cosmetic” ingredients are consumer associations, food organizations, and health groups.

Double-digit sales growth
Chr. Hansen is supplying natural colors for the major global players in the food and beverage industries. “During the past two years we have seen a solid development within natural colors”, says Hans Thorkilgaard, Executive Vice President, Chr. Hansen’s Color division. “In the last 4 quarters we experienced double-digit sales growth. Furthermore, we have an exceptionally strong pipeline of both sales- and development projects.”

“Europeans were the early adopters of natural colors but recently also a growing number of consumers in South America, Asia and the Middle East have been demanding naturally colored foods and beverages. The past year we have had very good sales to manufacturers serving those regions. The “natural trend” is indeed global,” concludes Hans Thorkilgaard.

Manufacturers catering to consumer preferences
“More and more people prefer natural ingredients in their food—this is obviously very understandable—especially when it comes to sweets such as candy and ice cream which are mostly consumed by children,” says Lionel Schmitt, Vice President, Commercial Development, Chr. Hansen’s Color division. “Color is the first ingredient that meets the eye. A good, natural looking color in a product will signal high quality while an artificially bright product can give the opposite impression.”

“Moreover,” adds Charlotte Gylling Olsen, Product Manager in Chr. Hansen’s Color division, “no producer wants to compromise on an attractive and appealing appearance and we are dedicated to supplying natural colors that meet these demands. Our in-depth understanding of major food industries gives us the ability to offer technical service and support to quickly match the changing industry requirements.”

Remarkable innovations
Apart from the health trend further reasons why natural colors are currently growing more than twice as much as synthetic colors are a number of remarkable innovations in the production of ingredients.

“Natural colors produced now are technically much more advanced. Hence they are more stable in varying conditions of temperature, light and pH which makes it much easier for producers to successfully replace synthetic colors with their natural counterparts,” explains Charlotte Gylling Olsen.

A strategic ingredient
Another significant trend currently shaping the food color industry is the fact that colors have become what Lionel Schmitt calls “a strategic ingredient”. “Colors have a huge impact, but are only a fraction of the total cost — in a premium ice cream it is less than 0.5%. This makes natural colors an obvious choice for companies who want to increase the value of their all ready well-defined brands,” he explains.

“We know that the color more than anything is what determines the first purchase of a product. As all processed foods are thoroughly packaged, the taste, smell, and perception of quality do not really come into play until we try the product and consider a re-purchase,” ends Lionel Schmitt.

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