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Food colours enhances a product's natural colour, replaces what was lost during processing
Saturday, 18 March, 2017, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Dr P A Raajeswari
Natural food colours market is expected to witness high demand for food appearance enhancement as they are derived from organic sources including mineral, animal and vegetables. These are used post-processing of foods, beverages and drugs in order to restore colour to the product for enhanced appeal. Increasing consumer preference towards nature- derived food ingredients on account of awareness regarding side-effects of synthetic colours is expected to be a key driver for the natural food colours market.Natural food colours originate from a wide range of sources like vegetables, fruits, plants, minerals and other edible natural sources. They impart colour when added to food or drink. Natural food colours are preparations obtained from foods and other edible natural source materials obtained by physical and/or chemical extraction resulting in a selective extraction of the pigments relative to the nutritive or aromatic constituents.They come in many forms consisting of liquids, powders, gels, and pastes.The natural colour pigments are Anthocyanins,Betanin, Carminic Acid, Chlorophylls/Chlorophyllins, Carotenoids, Curcumin,and Melanoidins.
Colours are used by food & beverage manufacturers to enhance the colour of the product so that it becomes attractive for the consumer. Major drivers for the global food colours market are increased health concerns and clean label foods, which have resulted in the use of advanced technology and new products.The natural colours market is currently going twice as fast as that of synthetic colours. There is a general increase in demand for natural ingredients. The past 10–15 years have seen a distinct move towards naturals, especially within flavours and colours.Simultaneously natural colours industry is required continuously to bring forward new colouring opportunities to match the increasing demands of their customers. Future developments are expected to concentrate on improvements of well-known technologies within the formulation and processing of existing colour pigments.
Trends and innovations in beverage colours
Colourings have been much in the news of late. Topics range from child hyperactivity studies to interest in carmine, a natural red colouring derived from cochineal insects. Carmine, for example, is generally not able to qualify as kosher but is still experiencing great demand and increased costs.
Colouring materials can enhance a product's natural colour, replace what was lost during processing, or add a novel sensory aspect that attracts customers. The colouring category of ingredients also is undergoing great change around the world. The global food colours market was worth an estimated $1.45 billion in 2009, relays an August 2010 market report, "The Global Market for Good Colours," by Leatherhead Food Research. World usage of food colours is currently about 40,000-50,000 tonne. Although current economic conditions mean "annual growth levels have started to fall off sharply," says the report, by the middle of the next decade, the global market value is expected to reach $1.6 billion, up 10% from its present levels. From 2005-2009, the global market for natural colours increased almost 35% in value, with much future growth expected to come from natural colours and colouring foodstuffs. Foods account for some 67% of the food colouring global market, followed by soft drinks (28%) and alcoholic beverages (5%).
Europe accounts for 36% of the global colouring market, followed by the US (28%), Japan (10%) and China (8%), with the remaining 18% from developed economies, such as Canada and Australia, and emerging food markets, such as India and Brazil.
Leatherhead Food Research's report segments the global colour market into synthetic, natural and nature-identical colours. "Synthetic colours" tend to be pure chemicals of standardised strengths. They usually are of lower cost and more stable across a range of conditions compared to natural colourings. Examples include Sunset Yellow FCF, iron oxides/hydroxides and brilliant Blue FCF. "Natural colours" are generally extracted from agricultural, biological or mineral sources. Examples include anthocyanins (e.g., from red, blue and purple fruits), betalains (mainly from beetroot), caramel (sourced from sugar), carotenoids, chlorophylls and riboflavin. "Natural-identical" colours are identical to pigments found in nature, but are produced by chemical synthesis.
Lastly, and of increasing interest, are ingredients that fall under the term "colouring foodstuffs." The Leatherhead report contrasts them from natural colourings, in that they are processed from foods such that the food's essential characteristics have been maintained, whereas natural colourings have been selectively extracted and concentrated. Colouring foodstuffs are standardised for colour and maintain the initial balance of sensory and colouring properties. "All typical components, such as flavonoids, carotenoids, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, amino acids and trace elements are maintained in representative amounts," states the report. Such ingredients are not assigned E numbers.
The "Global Market for Food Colours" report notes that colourings are highly important to certain categories, notably confectionery, desserts and beverages. Colourings are also important to savoury snacks, breakfast cereals and sweet spreads, such as jam. "Tartrazine, for example, is used to provide the distinctive yellow colour of the Inca Kola brand in Latin America," it states.
The vast majority of colours are widely used across the globe, but the report provides examples of how regions differ. Allura Red AC (16035) is widely used in the US but is banned in many European countries. The US has a partial ban on erythosine (45430), but this colouring is widely used in the rest of the world. Beyond governmental regulations, individual companies also may have policies. The retailers Tesco and Asda removed all artificial colours from their own private label products in 2008.
Artificial or synthetic colours have traditionally been used in the food processing industry to impart an appealing look to food products. These colours are also used to compensate for colour loss during food processing. However, reports about the potential side-effects of synthetic food colours has prompted consumers to look for alternatives. The findings of Southampton University on six natural colours, also known as ‘Southampton Six,’ and their impact on hyperactivity in children raised awareness among consumers in Europe.
Growing awareness about natural food colours hasnot meant that the use of artificial colours has completely stopped. Synthetic food colours have higher heat- and moisture-resistance properties, and they are economical to use as compared to natural colours. According to Future Market Insights’ analysis on the natural food colours market, the global food colours market was worth US$2 billion in 2014, out of which natural food colours market accounted for US$1.1 billion.
The global market for natural food colours is predicted to reach $1.7bn by 2020, with 20% of this market attributed to beverage applications.
The natural colours market is currently going twice as fast as that of synthetic colours. There is a general increase in demand for natural ingredients. The past 10–15 years have seen a distinct move towards naturals, especially within flavours and colours. Simultaneously natural colours industry is required continuously to bring forward new colouring opportunities to match the increasing demands of their customers. Future developments are expected to concentrate on improvements of well-known technologies within the formulation and processing of existing colour pigments.
Increasing health-consciousness has led to the growth of the clean label trend in all regions of the world. More than 70% of consumers in America are willing to pay high prices for natural ingredient-based food products and beverages. In Asia-Pacific and Latin America also there has been a substantial growth of processed food and beverages industry. According to the International Food Information Council (IIFC) Foundation’s 2014 Food and Health Survey, apart from taste and price, healthfulness is one of the most important factors affecting consumers’ food and beverage purchases.
This change in consumer behaviour provides immense market opportunities for the beverage manufacturers to launch innovative products with natural colours and flavours. A recent study done by Markets and Markets says caramel is the most widely used natural colour in the beverage industry. Meanwhile, associated health benefits with carotenoids make it an obvious choice for beverage manufacturers.
The increasing demand in the beverage industry- and more products in the market due to various advanced technologies- are triggering the market for natural colours and flavours in the beverage industry globally.
Micro-encapsulation of different substances is a very popular technique that is being increasingly applied in a variety of industries. A number of different micro-encapsulated colours are available that vary with regard to coating, production method and final formulation. The coating can be created with diverse food ingredients such as pectin, gums and carbohydrates but also proteins and lipids may be used.
There are a number of advantages that can be achieved with micro-encapsulation of colours.
In standard formulations curcumin normally shows rather poor stability when exposed to light but by entrapping it in appropriate encapsulation material it is possible to achieve excellent light stability and a bright lemon colour.
A number of natural colour pigments, e. g., carotenoids, are not soluble in water. To match the technical requirements of the primarily water-based food products, emulsions of these colours have been commercially available. Their limitations however, can be seen in liquid products such as beverages, where they might result in settling of colour in the bottleneck, the so-called ring formation.
It is possible to extend the range of colours for fat-based applications with pigments that are not naturally-soluble in fats and oils. This is done by milling for example carmine, betalain, and other natural colours in oil to add pink, red and purple shades to the already existing possibilities within green, yellow and orange. By optimising the shape and size of the suspended particles it is possible to create colours with a very bright and vivid appearance, a high colouring ability and excellent stability. Oil suspensions produced by milling are suitable for fat coatings to enrobe ice cream, nuts and fruits as well as for cream fillings and flavoured spreads.
Development of new sources
Besides the new technological solutions, natural colour manufacturers are also looking at a number of new pigment sources. One of the limitations in developing totally new colour formulations is the lengthy and costly safety testing and regulatory approval process. Therefore “untapped” sources of raw materials that conform to current regulations give valuable options to develop new colour products. Recent examples of these are red cabbage and algae beta carotene.
The demand for natural food colours is increasing as compared to synthetic colours. In relation to colours the fact that they are derived from well-known sources such as beetroot, grapes, cabbage, and paprika, makes the consumers feel safer and thus recognition and acceptance are easier. The general health trend will continue to be significant in the years to come. The demands on the natural colours industry will not only be for organic colours but also for a generally higher level of information with regard to production methods, specifically HACCP, as well as traceability of all ingredients. FAO is responsible for regulating the natural food colours to ensure that foods containing colour additives are safe to eat. So the quality criterion is an important factor for using natural food colours. Manufacturers have taken steps to safeguard the production of natural colours, and to be in a better position to cope with increased demand. There are also a wider variety of natural colours available. Several applications are still using synthetic colours, as questions remain over natural colour stability and suitability. Investment is needed to provide cost-effective natural colour solutions for all applications. Natural colour growth in developed markets has started to stall, as there are few products left to convert. Conversely, strong growth is forecast in developing markets as the natural trend takes hold.
(The author is assistant professor, department of food science and nutrition, Avinashilingam Institute for Home Science and Higher Education For Women, Coimbatore. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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