Consumers increasingly want to avoid artificial colours. Victor Foo, general manager at GNT Singapore, explains how plant-based colour concentrates can deliver eye-catching shades alongside clean and clear labels
Colour is key to creating appetising confectionery. It can help products stand out on the shelf, showcase enticing flavours, and influence product enjoyment.
In the modern market, the choice of colouring ingredient can be every bit as vital. Artificial colours such as tartrazine, sunset yellow, brilliant blue, and erythrosine have been used in confectionery for many years. However, in countries including China, Thailand, and Indonesia, there are heavy restrictions on the amounts, and types, of artificial colour that can be used. In addition, 56% of Asia-Pacific shoppers say they associate artificial colours with a negative effect on their health.
More than half (53%) of shoppers in the region now say the use of natural colours influences their purchase decisions. Yet even some natural colours can significantly limit products’ appeal. Carmine is a natural colour that is commonly used to achieve reds and pinks in confectionery, but it is made from the inedible cochineal insect. As a result, it is not only incompatible with vegetarian, halal, and kosher diets but fails to match up to modern expectations on clean ingredient lists.
Thankfully, plant-based colouring solutions can now be used to deliver a full spectrum of vibrant shades in almost any confectionery application.
Natural colours vs Colouring foods
Many plant-based colours are officially classified as natural. These colours are created by selectively extracting the pigments from raw materials including vegetables, fruits, spices, and algae. Examples include carotenoids – which can be derived from various fruits, vegetables, and plants – and annatto, which is created from the annatto seed of the achiote tree.
Colouring foods, meanwhile, are classed as a separate category to natural colours in many parts of the world. They are made from edible fruits, vegetables, and plants using only physical processing methods and water. This means they are actually edible food concentrates that can be consumed by the spoonful.
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