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Chr. Hansen rolls out 3rd generation natural colors

By Stephen Daniells , 20-Jul-2011

Chr Hansen is expanding the ‘clean label’ options for manufacturers with its new series of natural colors for the US food and beverage industries sourced from fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices.

The new series is the latest generation of the company’s ‘FruitMax’ range of coloring foodstuffs, and includes seven shades from red to violet, all sourced from edible, natural sources.

According to the company, the natural origins allow food manufacturers to label the ingredients as color: Fruit and/or vegetable concentrates.

The rise in natural colors

Historically, demand for natural colors dipped when synthetic colors arrived on the scene, as naturals provided less consistency, heat stability and color range than their chemical alternatives. Moreover, natural colors are more expensive.

However, as consumer awareness increases over the link between diet and health and trends move towards more clean-label products, natural colorings are back in fashion.

Ripple effect

One of the most significant studies deterring consumers from artificial colorings was the Southampton Study, published in 2007 in The Lancet, which reported an association between a concoction of artificial colors and hyperactivity in children.

Byron Madkins, director of applications and product development of colors for Chr Hansen, told FoodNavigator-USA the Southampton study had caused a “ripple effect” across the Atlantic, from Europe to the US.

“Historically, the US market demand for natural colors has not been as strong as the European market demand,” added Kurt Seagrist, Chr. Hansen’s senior VP of colors, “but the past couple of years we have experienced a considerable increase in requests from US food manufacturers looking to replace artificial colors with natural alternatives”.

Market

The value of the international colorings market was estimated at around $1.45bn in 2009, up 16 percent from $1.25bn in 2005, according to latest data from Leatherhead Food International (LFI). The US is the world’s largest single market for food colorings, says LFI, and is estimated to be worth $405m.

Natural colors now make up 36.2 percent of the global colorings market, compared with 39 percent for synthetics, according to LFI. In the US, the growth for natural colors has been even more impressive, with the natural sector estimated to be worth $230m, or 57 percent of the market.

Challenges and opportunities

Madkins said that the twin issues of stability and cost are addressed daily by Chr Hansen. The cost issue regarding natural colors is always either “the first or last question” asked by customers, he said.

Madkins added that the company has made progress in this area: “The cost-in-use numbers are much better than four to five years ago.”

As for stability, “we have found ways to stabilize the natural colors without changing the ‘natural’ profile,” he said.

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