Natural colorants: Challenges and opportunities
Food colours greatly impact acceptability and liking as consumers associate colour with flavour, safety, and nutritional value.
However, consumer demand for cleaner labels and more natural ingredients are leading to the replacement of synthetic colorants with naturally-derived alternatives. Use of colours from natural sources is challenging, and there is no single colorant that can serve as a universal alternative for a specified synthetic colorant in all applications. This article summarizes some of these challenges as well as opportunities to overcome them by increasing supply, reducing costs, stabilizing colour, and expanding hue ranges.
The future of food will remain colourful.
CURRENT STATE OF COLORANTS IN THE FOOD INDUSTRY
Colour is an important attribute of foods and plays a key role in purchase decisions and the success of a product. Consumers typically relate colour characteristics to qualities like flavour, safety, nutritional value, and more. Synthetic colorants are popular in the food industry due to their low cost, high colouring strength, and chemical stability.
However, consumer demand and new regulatory constrains have been driving for the replacement of artificial colourants with more label and consumer friendly naturally derived alternatives. This conversion has been primarily attributed to increasing consumer preference for cleaner labels and more “natural” products, but there are also some increasing concerns about the safety of artificial colorants due to links with hyperactivity in children and allergenicity (1, 2).
In response, several large companies and restaurant chains have announced plans to remove artificial colorants from their products including Nestlé, Kraft, General Mills, C ...