Natural colors are quickly grabbing the food industry replacing synthetic and artificial food colors. Natural food color is now in full swing as major companies are switching to natural food colors due to increasing safety concerns. Companies are also increasingly investing in the development of natural color with natural food and ingredients. Increasing consumer demand for more natural foods is also resulting in the companies shifting from artificial to natural food colors. For instance, Hershey and Nestle have moved away from artificial flavors and colors, while Mars in 2016 announced the removal of all artificial colors and flavors from its entire food and drink product portfolio globally, owing to the increasing demand for natural ingredients from customers.
Increasing consumption of natural food color can be beneficial
Natural food coloring in food and beverages industry is gaining popularity with increasing number of natural food colors and dyes being produced commercially. Natural food colors are usually made using natural products such as plants, fruits and vegetables.
According to some research, the darker colored foods are higher in nutrients and antioxidants. It has also been found that purple fruits and vegetables often reduce the risk of high blood pressure and low cholesterol. Moreover, scientists at the University of Southampton in the UK have also linked artificial food color with hyperactivity in children. This has led to the rapid rise in natural food colors. Nearly 90% of the new products launched in Europe in past four years have used natural color. North America and Canada are also increasing the use of natural colors in food products.
Although food companies have received clearance from FDA for using synthetic F.D&C colors, increasing concerns from consumers, companies are switching to colors from natural sources. For instance, red beets and purple corn may be used for red food color, and turmeric may be used for yellow color. However, natural colors are still facing some challenges which include price fluctuation of raw materials, the look of the finished product made using natural color may differ.
Blue natural food coloring has been one of the most challenging colors to be produced using natural food products. Hence, manufacturers are looking for innovative solutions to produce blue natural food color. Blue combined with yellow is also emerging as the important color for food and beverages industry. However, natural blue food colors are being produced in some countries such as using Spirulina which leads to blue/blue turquoise shade, Gardenia fruit and red cabbage used to produce dark blue shade.
Food colors today are more than visual appeal, natural food colors have emerged as a new way of offering a more healthy option to the consumers. Hence, the food industry has opened new doors for manufacturers producing high-quality natural colors, flavors and ingredients.