Red raspberry smoothie
New ingredients and consumer surveys point to the promise of naturally sourced colors.

Red normally means stop, but that’s far from the case when it comes to progress in naturally sourced colors. Consumer surveys, ingredient innovations and a distribution agreement all are demonstrating why more processed foods and beverages companies are choosing to use naturally sourced red and other colors.

Prinova, Carol Stream, Ill., in April said it had become the exclusive distributor of lycopene-based and beta-carotene-based colors from Lycored in the United States and Canada. Prinova cited Mintel data showing more than a third of U.S. consumers have indicated they are interested in “free-from artificial color” claims. Within specific demographic groups, the percentages were 43% for millennial mothers and 31% for millennial fathers.

“The clean label trend continues to drive formulation in our industry,” said Larry Davis, commercial director, Food & Beverage for Prinova. “(Prinova) customers are removing synthetic and carmine-based colors from their labels, and we needed to find a naturally sourced, vertically integrated, trusted supplier partner that could meet this customer demand.

“We are excited that this new partnership with Lycored will allow us to provide high performing lycopene- and beta-carotene-based natural colors to the marketplace.”

Lycored, which has a U.S. office in Orange, N.J., offers Tomat-O-Red and Lyc-O-Beta red, orange and yellow colorings.

“Our red and pink shades can provide stable alternatives to artificial colors like Red 3, and natural beta-carotene can be incorporated as an alternative to artificial colors such as yellow 5 or to replace synthetic beta-carotenes,” said Thomas Adler, vice-president of the Food Division for Lycored.

Kalsec, Kalamazoo, Mich., has made progress in naturally sourced red colors as well.

“Kalsec has recently expanded its natural color collection with high stability red colors from such natural sources as anthocyanins, beet and lycopene,” said Gary Augustine, executive director, market development for Kalsec. “These red colors include Kalsec’s Durabrite stabilization technology that helps maintain the color quality over a wide range of processing, storage and stability conditions, including light, heat and pH.”

Durabrite colors inhibit oxidation and degradation of carotenoid pigments while helping maintain the desired color and flavor quality. Kalsec produces Durabrite colors by extracting selected raw materials and incorporating the company’s stabilization system.

Red tomatoes
Lycopene from tomatoes may be used to create red colors.

Last year Kalsec released a consumer study showing more than 80% of parents in the United Kingdom and the United States with a child between the ages of 3 and 12 indicated they were more likely to purchase a food product for their children if it contained a naturally sourced color instead of a synthetic color. Also, 70% of the parents surveyed indicated they would be willing to pay a premium for food products containing naturally sourced colors instead of synthetic colors.

Besides red, beta-carotene may play a role in naturally sourced orange colors as well.

Chr. Hansen, which has a U.S. office in Milwaukee, launched CapColors Orange 057 WSS colorant last year. The ingredient is an encapsulated beta-carotene product for beverage manufacturers. The new color ingredient makes products robust to light, heat and ringing while dispersing and dissolving quickly because of its liquid form, according to the company.

“The promotion of CapColors Orange continues throughout the different regions under dedicated campaigns,” said Peter Thorninger, senior vice-president of sales and marketing, Natural Colors division, for Chr. Hansen. “We are seeing strong traction from many of our customers with increased interest and testing. The product launch remains on track, and the market has clearly understood the value of our new concepts. We will during the coming months continue to add new functionalities to the product family, including the application in non-juice-based matrices.”

The Natural Colors division of Chr. Hansen, Hoersholm, Denmark, experienced organic revenue growth of 22% in the first half of the fiscal year, the company said April 7. Overall, Chr. Hansen achieved organic revenue growth of 13% in the first half. Based on the first-half results, the company raised expectations for organic revenue growth in the fiscal year to 10% to 12%, up from a previous estimate of 9% to 11%.

“Chr. Hansen Natural Colors continues to experience strong organic growth across most market categories and across all regions,” Mr. Thorninger said. “Growth in North America was driven by strong conversion interest to natural colors. As iconic brand owners publicly pledge to phase out artificial colors to renovate and grow their brands, we see consumers reward them.”

For another color innovation, Watson, Inc., West Haven, Conn., has introduced a line of Edible Glitter products made from gum Arabic from the acacia tree and naturally sourced colors. Watson uses colors from such sources as cabbage juice, algae, carrots, turmeric and annatto.

Edible Glitter may be used as a sprinkle, topping or inclusion on such products as confectionery items, baked foods and frostings. Edible Glitter is unflavored or flavor-neutral. It contains no sugar, artificial sweeteners, fats or hydrogenated vegetable oils.

Watson said the new line of Edible Glitter may allow companies to take advantage of consumer trends.

“The consumer demand for clean label products and ‘free-from’ products has opened a door of opportunity,” Watson said. “Consumers are looking for products they feel are safe and free of chemical-sounding ingredients, and are products that they can trust. Moreover, they still expect the same level of quality, flavor and visual appeal. This presents a challenge to the confectionery, food, beverage and baking industries, but also a great opportunity to those who can reformulate to address these needs.”

For more insight on consumer interest, GNT Group, which has a U.S. office in Tarrytown, N.Y., in December 2014 surveyed 5,000 people between the ages of 18-70 in the countries of Brazil, China, France, Germany, Indonesia, Poland, Spain, Thailand, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Red beets
Beets may also be used to develop red colors.

The survey found 54% of consumers worldwide want their food and beverages to be made with naturally sourced color ingredients only. The claims “with natural colors” and “colored with fruits and vegetables” was perceived as credible by more than 75%.

The GNT Group manufactures coloring concentrates from edible fruits, vegetables and plants using physical methods such as pressing, crushing and filtering. Artificial additives, chemicals or organic solvents are not used.

Debate around synthetic colors has focused on whether they have any association with attention-deficit/hyperactive disorder in children. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration addressed the topic in a background document released in March 2011. The F.D.A. concluded a causal relationship had not been established between exposure to color additives 
and hyperactivity in children in the general population.

“For certain susceptible children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and other problem behaviors, however, the data suggest that their condition may be exacerbated by exposure to a number of substances in food, including, but not limited to, synthetic color additives,”
the F.D.A. said in 2011.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest, Washington, in 2016 continues to push for warning labels on synthetically dyed foods. The C.S.P.I. sent a letter dated March 15 to the F.D.A.

“This letter is a further comment to our petition to ban synthetic dyes and demonstrates that prior agency precedent demands that it take action in the present case to provide consumers with, at the very least, a warning label describing the link between food dyes and behavioral problems in children,” the letter said.

The C.S.P.I. said parents have shared with the organization 2,007 complaints concerning the negative impact the parents said the dyes have had on their children and families since August 2008.