Sensient expands coloring solutions offering, eyes sustainability platforms

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06 Dec 2017 --- Meeting the ever-growing global trend for more natural products, Sensient Food Colors Europe brought an enhanced range of coloring solutions, with customer and consumer benefits, to this year's Food ingredients Europe (FiE), held in Frankfurt, last week. 

Building on the important drive for clean labeling, Sensient has further extended its comprehensive coloring foods range with new yellow and orange shades. Combined with last year’s successful launches of orange, yellow, red and pink shades, as well as a natural brown, these new coloring foods all naturally comply with the EU Guidance Notes and offer yet again improved application performance. Coloring foods have become the logical next step in providing products to meet consumer demands for clean labeling.

Achieving a true white without using titanium dioxide, has always been a challenge and with more people now looking for an alternative product, Sensient has launched Avalanche – the new white. FoodIngredientsFirst caught up with Managing Director of Sensient Colors Europe, Roland Beck at the show last week, who first discussed the company’s innovative Avalanche range.

“Titanium dioxide replacement is really a major issue for the industry. The point is that titanium dioxide by itself is a wonderful food additive, it does exactly what it needs to do and it’s brilliantly white. It is inert to almost anything, so any sort of replacement will need to make compromises or be limited to certain applications,” says Beck.

“This means that there can be no universal titanium dioxide replacement,” he explains. “Any replacement would be very specific to a particular application and we have developed a global portfolio of products that target a lot of different applications.”

Click to EnlargeThe innovative Avalanche range is a global portfolio of alternatives to titanium dioxide and offers strong whitening or opacifying effects, performing well in a range of applications including confectionery, instant drinks, sauces and pet food.

Another important innovation that Sensient were featuring at FiE, was something the company pioneered some six years ago – palm-free natural colors. Beck states: “We have since grown our portfolio enormously, and now any new product development we are doing is palm free because we understand the issues around sustainability.”

“In the end, many companies may wonder: is it really necessary to use palm oil? Maybe we can substitute that with sunflower oil, rapeseed oil or derivatives of those,” he notes. “So we developed proprietary emulsification systems which are based on renewable European-grown fat sources and no longer use palm oil types of materials, which is a big step forward in the palm-free natural colors space,” he claims.

Sensient has worked consistently to expand the portfolio of palm-free colors across a wide range of different applications. The palm-free range focuses on using a novel selection of exclusively palm-free components, chosen through a dedicated research program to ensure improved stability. The latest extensions to this range include new green and yellow shades offering proven performance in especially demanding beverage applications, as well as confectionery, dairy and savory products.

Are there any challenges around the sourcing of raw materials? “Several years ago, we started a program to get much more involved into the sourcing, and sourcing directly, including cooperation with the farming community where we’re growing our own specific crops, but we try to minimize the risk which is, of course, there,” Beck replies. 
 
“We have also started programs to persify the growing areas on a global scale from Europe, Africa and the Americas. We are involved in breeding, in classical breeding actions, to increase the pigment content and we try to develop specific harvesting technologies for color crops, which today do not exist, since sometimes color crops need to be specifically treated and pre-processed before you can actually extract from it, or extract the coloring foodstuff from it,” he explains. 
 
Sensient is looking at all types of new crops, including carrots, radishes, other types of flower products. “We’re looking to selectivelyClick to Enlarge breed some of the color crops,” claims Beck. “Some have particular flavor profiles which are not very pleasant, so we are trying to remove those flavor profiles, either by technology in the processing, or ideally, remove them directly on the seed level so that you do not bring in those negative flavor components into the primary extract.”

The maturity of Sensient’s development efforts focuses on the conversion of colors within the Americas, which is the largest growth area for natural conversion colors today, so this is part of their NPD strategy. “We are trying to close the gap in performance there,” continues Beck, “The major difference between Europe and the US is in the intensity of color shades. So the most problematic thing in the US is to achieve a color shade with natural colors as intense and as vibrant as the synthetic colors today. So, therefore, a lot of R&D and NPD effort is going in this direction,” he confirms. 
 
There is a big trend towards clean and clear label where ingredient lists are being reduced. How can the ingredients industry remain relevant when this keeps happening and what does that mean for a colors supplier such as Sensient?

Innova Market Insights revealed “Say it with Color” as trend number 6 for 2018. What are your thoughts on this? “Some of the examples we saw last year included black pizza and black buns for hamburgers. So we have seen that this year, black was a very fashionable color for the food industry, and we’ve always seen a correlation between fashionable colors and food colors. But this year was very, very strong in terms of what is really fashionable,” he replies. 
 
“What I think we’ll see, though, as in fashion, is a very fast turnaround. If black pizza was a thing this year, maybe red pizza or yellow pizza is next year. So I don’t think that these trends will last long term,” adds Beck. 
 
“Another thing we also see is that in the past, we saw seasonal products – the Halloween products, the Christmas products. I think we’ve seen a trend moving away from these fixed dates. So there is just this black pizza, and that’s completely independent of Christmas or Halloween or Easter. And I think we will see more trends on the food side that go this way, heading out of the traditional seasonal product launches,” he reveals. 
 
Finally, another area for Sensient innovation is the trend towards coloring foods, and this year the company is featuring oil-based pigments in coloring foods, like turmeric and paprika, which for a time were not possible to obtain as a coloring food. “We have developed these kinds of products to be able to go into the more yellow and orange color shades, while being label friendly, with coloring foods,” Beck concludes.

By Robin Wyers and Elizabeth Green

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