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From synthetic to natural and high performing colorants


Mario Pagliaro
Istituto per lo Studio dei Materiali
Nanostrutturati, CNR, Palermo, Italy

Colorants, and red colorant in particular, are widely used by industry to increase the appearance of beverage and foodstuff making both visually more attractive.
A few examples include baked goods, dry grocery goods such as extruded cereals, strawberry yogurts and other dairy products.

Industry, historically, relied on approved synthetic dyes such as Red 40, a red azo dye derived from coal tars, which has been associated, along with other synthetic colorants, to child hyperactivity (1).

Driven by ever increasing health consciousness of consumers across the world, the demand for natural food colors has grown significantly in the last decade, accounting for $1.31 billion in 2015. The market is expected to grow at over 5% annual rate between 2016 and 2021, with several new suppliers likely to enter the marketplace (2).

Betalains are still a small  fraction of this market, but their utilization potential is very significant (3). The use of purple-red betanin (E162) extracted from red beet juice, for example, already widely used in coloring (inter alia) ice creams, soft drink beverages and soups has the potential to transform a debated healt ...

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