Natural food colouring as the way of the future

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More than just a trend, the move to natural food colouring is here to stay. Now is the time for food and beverage manufacturers that still use artificial colouring to make the switch to natural. BASF can help them do this successfully.

According to a report by Zion Research, the global natural food colouring market accounted for $1.66b in 2015 and is expected to reach $2.25b by 2021, growing at a rate of around 5.2 per cent.

In addition, Asia-Pacific is expected to be the fastest natural food colouring market, due to an increase in consumption of processed food in this region.

As Harry Haikalis, BASF’s business and sales manager, nutrition and health Australia & New Zealand (pictured below) explained, these colouring products fall into two categories – natural colourants and nature-identical colourants.

“Natural colourants are what you source from nature, colourants that come from plants, minerals, and so forth,” he told Food & Beverage Industry News. “With nature identical colourants you’re replicating a naturally occurring molecular structure. You’re taking a natural pigment or colourant and you’re basically synthesising it.”

Making the change

Given the move toward natural colourings, food and beverage manufacturers still using artificial colourings in their products would be well advised to consider making the change to natural.

Harry Haikalis, BASF’s business and sales manager, nutrition and health Australia & New Zealand.

Haikalis explained that there are challenges associated with choosing and then using a natural additive.

“The major challenges centre around light stability, oxygen stability, shelf life and colour matching,” he said.

“It takes significant expertise to be able to recommend an appropriate natural product or a nature-identical formulation. It’s both a science and an art form. We’ve invested a lot of time and energy to try and make sure we can help our customers.”

Natural colourings are, as you would expect, naturally derived. They come from plants, animals or minerals and are sourced from various locations around the world.

Manufacturers who use them need to have a reliable supply, independent of seasonal or annual changes. And they need suppliers who can help them include those natural colours into their formulations.

“This is where BASF has a lot of expertise. We offer a wide range of colours and various grades for different applications, anything from powders to oils depending on what our customers want to formulate with,” said Haikalis.

Ease of use is another important consideration. Food manufacturers should be seeking products which are not only easy to add, but also deliver consistency of colour.

“They need to be able to access colour matching,” said Haikalis. “We can provide this through several applications labs across the globe.” Only by covering all these bases can manufacturers supply the reliable, stable, consistent colours consumers demand.

BASF

BASF produces a broad range of natural colourings, from yellows through to deep reds.

“The applications are very broad. They can be used on anything from sparkling or still beverages to confectionery, gummies and hard lollies, ice cream, cake mixes, breads, pasta and noodles, cheeses, yoghurts, spreads, margarines, butters and cheeses,” said Haikalis.

He explained that BASF was an early convert to natural colouring, having produced beta-carotene, which is from algae (Dunaliella salina), that’s naturally occurring in Australia, for over 25 years.

“This product uses natural algae, sunlight and carbon dioxide. We grow it, we mechanically harvest it so there’s minimal processing, then we concentrate it,” he said.

The company also offers Xangold, a natural colouring derived from the Marigold flower (Targetes erecta) and sourced from Ecuador; and Lycopene which is typically derived from tomatoes.

“We offer proven solutions through many decades of experience and know-how,” said Haikalis. “We welcome the conversion from artificial to natural and nature identical and recognise it for what it certainly is – the way of the future.