Standing out from the crowd (Part 2): The supplier view on natural colors

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03 May 2018 --- To keep up with the increased demand for natural colors, color suppliers are increasing their capacity in a bid to match consumer needs and expectations. Just last month, Chr. Hansen announced that it was increasing production capacity and adding new capabilities, to meet the rapidly increasing demand for natural colors in North America.

Taking this step is in response to an ever-growing interest from US consumers in products made from natural, recognizable and safe ingredients, putting pressure on food and beverage producers to convert to natural colors.

FoodIngredientsFirst spoke with Naturex, Sensient Colors Europe GmbH and DDW the Color House for their perspective on the natural colors markets.

Synthetic colors and additives are not yet a thing of the past, but their popularity in the food industry is falling away. Consumer dissatisfaction, voiced by organizations all over the world, has also served to draw attention to the issue and push buyers to demand more natural ingredients in their food. The public interest in transparency of origin is also growing stronger by the day, according to Naturex, a pioneer in natural coloring agents.

Antoine Dauby, Marketing & Communications Director, told FoodIngredientsFirst: “For instance, curcumin extract is ideal for adding a yellow color to a huge range of culinary applications, varying the intensity as required. Naturex experts have a wealth of botanical knowledge, allowing development of high-quality systems which meets all relevant requirements regarding transparency, traceability and sustainable development.”

Sensient Colors Europe GmbH
Dr. Roland Beck, Managing Director of Sensient Colors Europe GmbH, says that the company aims to offer products that match current and future consumer needs, as well as food manufacturer’s technological and marketing needs. “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 the existing successful orange, yellow, red and pink shades, as well as a natural brown, these new colors all naturally comply with the EU Guidance Notes and offer the real flexibility of application use. Coloring foods have become the logical next step in providing products to meet consumer demands for transparency of labeling,” Beck explains.

Achieving a pure white without using titanium dioxide, has always been a challenge and with more people now looking for an alternative product, Sensient recently launched Avalanche – The New White. The innovative Avalanche range is designed to best match the performance of TiO2 and offers strong whitening with good stability. The ingredient performs well in applications from confectionery such as hard-boiled candies through to sauces and instant beverages.

“Sensient were the pioneers of palm-free colors and had worked consistently to expand the portfolio across a wide range of different applications,” Beck notes. “Sensient's 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.”

Click to EnlargeThe appreciation of color is a unique human experience and Sensient constantly seeks to add to this by introducing new coloring products that both delight the senses and bring the advantage of yet more natural solutions, according to Beck. The main focus will be the further extension of the coloring foods range with new shades as well as additional palm-free options.

In Europe, the use of natural colors has been predominant for food and beverage colorings for over 20 years. In recent years coloring foods have been rising as a trend and become the next logical extension beyond natural colors, especially with the growth of clean label demands, claims Beck, “And this trend to natural remains a big issue, which combined with a demand for sustainability and increasing interest in organic products as well, demonstrates growing consumer sophistication. For the food and beverage manufacturer, color performance is always a key point of interest, for example, increased light stability in specific applications or brighter shades.”

Naturality is a strong and very long-term trend in the food and beverage industry, which, for color, drives the increasing demand for natural color and coloring foods. The role of color in food and drink products is increasing, not only do brands seek to differentiate their products with color but the visual appeal of food and drink products is ever more popular due to a social media sharing-based culture. Consumers are no longer satisfied with merely buying products; increasingly they want brands to provide them with an experience.

“We do expect the natural trend to continue globally,” Beck continues, “As many regions follow the example of Europe and seek to use ever more natural products for their consumers. The importance of the visual appeal of products is also growing universally, which provides the challenge for the color industry to match these expectations.”

DDW The Color House
Also speaking to FoodIngredientsFirst, Barry Foley, Director, Applications & Regulatory for Europe at DDW discussed the company’s platform of new ingredients. “Within the last three years, we have launched a range from natural brown caramel color alternatives (Burnt sugar, NaturBrown ingredients) to palm-free emulsified colors to a new natural red from specialty non-GMO corn.”    

“These products meet the industry pull for simple, recognizable labels, relevant delivery systems and transparent supply chain,” adds Foley.

In addition to the expanding platform for natural browns and DDW’s new natural colors plant in Europe, the company is expanding their range of coloring foods for this market. 

“In the US we are developing more organic colors,” Foley says. “By Q3, our offerings will include red, yellow, orange and blue hues from organic corn, turmeric, annatto and spirulina.”

What are customers looking for in the natural colors space? “It’s common to hear that consumers want ingredients that have a wellness component,” he explains. “For example, dark red anthocyanin-based natural colors contain high levels of antioxidants.  But conversely, there are some products and brands that are pure indulgence, so health & wellness, for example, is not a consideration. This is all about taste and visual appeal.”

“Generally speaking, if you are talking about regularly consumed food items, the consumers want simple, recognizable labels. Labels that ‘sound’ like something worth eating. For example, this consumer would prefer a label that reads carrot vs. carotenoid (the technical name of the yellow/orange pigment). It’s simple, easy to explain and easy to understand.”

Meanwhile, in savory applications, many products that have traditionally contained “caramel color” are being converted to the newer, simple label products such as “burnt sugar” or  “cooked vegetable juice concentrate.” “There continues to be significant product development activity in RTD Beverages and confections,” concludes Foley.    

You can read Part 1 of this report here.

By Elizabeth Green

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