Consuming food involves more than just taste. It is a full sensorial experience. Visual appearance is one of the most powerful ways to capture a consumer’s attention and interest.
The colour of food and beverages is a prelude to nutrition and good taste.
Over the past decade, manufacturers have started to switch from synthetic dyes such as FD&C’s to natural alternatives. Natural dyes have in fact been used for centuries to colour food, beverages, textiles and medicine.
The natural colour market continues to grow at 10 to 12 per cent per annum as consumer product manufacturing companies see the benefits of ingredient transparency. According to a survey conducted by Mintel, 20 per cent of US consumers would like to see more free-from artificial colours. This paradigm shift in buying behaviour is a result of core consumers wanting cleaner, more natural and friendlier labels.
Colour challenges with dairy applications
In most finished applications, technical challenges always exist when using natural colours. These challenges can include cost, processing conditions, interactions with other ingredients, heat, light, pH and oxygen. In very specific dairy applications, similar challenges exist.
Most dairy products are typically stored refrigerated or frozen. Light exposure may not be a factor depending on packaging and shelf life of a finished product. Other factors such as pH and temperature could be problematic for product developers. In yoghurt, one must be concerned with pH differences between fruit prep and white mass. For some colours, specifically those that are fruit and vegetable based, a hue shift might occur causing the colour to move from red to purple (bluer) over time. For other colours, this may not be an issue.
In addition to pH, exposure to heat could also impact the performance of a natural colour. For example, certain colours such as beet juice concentrate might turn brown when applied to dairy-based beverages that are thermally processed (pasteurised). Time and temperature can significantly impact results. Other colours such as carmine and paprika will be minimally impacted.
Ice cream for example has a pH of about 6.5, is not exposed to light and does not undergo heat or pH changes. This makes it an ideal application for use of red beet as a strawberry colour.
While natural colours for dairy applications do come with challenges (no different than other food products) Kancor and Mane are working to find the right solution.
The C-CAPTURE line of products offers various natural colour options to suit different dairy applications. Based on the results of stability studies, Kancor and Mane could uncover a variety of solutions to naturally colour dairy-based products. Kancor offers a wide range of natural colours for various product platforms and systems. C-CAPTURE includes colours such as turmeric (yellow) and a host of carotenoids. These include annatto, paprika and beta-carotene (yellow, orange and reddish orange), beet juice concentrate (pink), fruit and vegetable juices (red to purple) to name a few.
The company offers spirulina (blue), several sodium copper chlorophyllin (green) options, caramel and other customised blends depending on application, market location and desired hue. Kancor is a significant player in the extraction of natural raw materials. The company has been extracting and manufacturing natural colours for number of years.