HORSHOLM, DENMARK — Chr. Hansen has commercialized a new vegetable variety, the Hansen sweet potato Ipomoea batatas, to create a vibrant, natural red alternative to carmine.

“For the first time, we’ve created a whole new variety of vegetable to create the natural color our customers are asking for,” said Jakob Dalmose Rasmussen, vice-president of commercial development at Chr. Hansen Natural Colors. “Over 10 years ago, we discovered a promising pigment in a root vegetable’s tuber, but the plant’s pigment content was on the low side. We took this plant and embarked on a process of selective breeding using traditional, non-G.M.O. methods. The result is a plant-based, brilliant red that gives our customers a natural alternative to carmine and synthetic colors.”

The new sweet potato is the basis for Chr. Hansen’s new FruitMax line of natural, bright red juice concentrates.

“Strawberry red is a popular shade for food products — from cakes to confectionery to milkshakes,” Mr. Dalmose Rasmussen said. “But until now it has been nearly impossible to make a fire-engine red color with no risk of off-taste without using carmine. And as consumers move toward vegetarian and vegan food choices, the need for a carmine alternative has become more pressing. Our new FruitMax red juice concentrates are 100% plant-based and provide a new solution to our customers looking to respond to this consumer trend.”