It may come as no surprise that consumers are the main force behind the demand for products that are colored naturally.  This is because of studies like the Southampton study, which focused on the negative impact of artificial colors on children’s behavior, as well as the growing demand for products with a more natural appeal and simpler ingredient lists. 

With the right expertise and color know-how, especially in stability, you can find an array of alternative color solutions. Red hues are extremely popular because of their attractive color and vibrancy, particularly in food targeted at children such as sweet drinks and confections. Azo colorants could easily be replaced by carmine, but there is also a growth in demand for substitutes for carmine (Starbucks, anyone?), which is produced with carminic acid derived from a species of scale insect.

Artificial and natural colors have different properties and therefore different technical challenges. The issue of stability can sometimes become tricky in various applications. For example, it is difficult to to find red hues from a plant source (without carmine) that will be stable when used in non-acidic applications that will be subjected to heat (as in meat processing or baked goods). Anthocyanins’ color changes at a high pH and beetroot does not resist high temperatures.

The answer is to blend together several pigments to find the best solution that balances each pigment’s sensitivity and application constraints in terms of pH and temperature. Finding the right blend, in the right proportion, is not an easy task. You may need to tailor a solution for your specific application needs.

Adding red, orange, green or blue to your product? Here are your natural color solutions.