Food manufacturers are turning to a new category of natural food colours as the switch from synthetic to conventional natural colours slows, according to a new report by market consultants Frost & Sullivan.
Colouring foodstuffs, as the emerging category is known, include fruit and vegetable juices, concentrates and dried, powdered extracts derived from natural ingredients such as turmeric (Curcuma longa), stinging nettle (Urtica dioica), grape skin (Vitis vinifera), beetroot (Beta vulgaris) and spinach.
The category, currently experiencing growth between 10 and 15 per cent, is being fueled by consumer interest in natural products. Awareness of these ingredients is already high in Germany, Scandinavia, Belgium, Austria and Switzerland, but the report forecasts that major growth will follow substantiated health claims. This growth may be at the expense of the natural colours market, with prices that are often up to ten times cheaper per kilo.
Another trend that will benefit colouring foodstuffs substantially is the growth in the functional foods and beverages market, as these ingredients are compatible with a product's healthy image, says Lyndsey Greig, Frost & Sullivan food research analyst. "Some of these colouring foodstuffs have additional health benefits themselves, making them a useful ingredient for functional foods," she notes. "For example, grape skin extract has antioxidant properties, and carrot extract has provitamin A activity."
They are extracted by a physical process and are labeled as ingredients rather than additives, which means they are not subject to restrictive legislation and can potentially be used in a much wider variety of products.