There are many benefits of natural colors; such as heat, light, ph stability, and some vibrant shades. The main challenges come with stability and cost. Natural food colors are less stable and more costly compared to artificial colors.
Hence, the replacement is not simple as 1:1.
Consumer’s awareness of food colors
Nowadays people are very concerned about what they are eating especially when they are buying ready food products.
Consumers are preferring natural foods more than anything else. Also when it comes to coloring the foodstuffs they are looking for natural colors or clean-label colors.
The use of natural colors may sometimes go out of the budget of food manufacturers. Some of these natural colors have health benefits like relaxation support, powerful antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory properties. The main challenge is when it comes to the cost and shelf life of ingredients.
What consumers are looking for?
Consumers have been educated by their ancestors that color symbolizes the flavor profile of food products. Hence it becomes more important to look at the source of colors and the process of their extraction from the source.
Practical benefits of natural colors
Spirulina is the most common natural color solution used to obtain blue to green shades. It has amino acids and it is rich in niacin, potassium, calcium, magnesium, vitamins B, and iron. Similarly, beta-carotene gives you a red-orange range of color. It is found in many vegetables like carrots, beet, etc.
Natural colors have other benefits as well. They can be used to formulate RTD beverages. Before natural colors or clean-label colors came into the market, synthetic colors were the only option available in food coloring. As a result, consumers were used to bright and bold colors in their food items.
But when it comes to natural food colors the color can get vanished in the heat process or light process. Therefore, maintaining the heat and light stability of natural colors has become a challenge for most food color manufacturers.
How food color manufacturers have overcome these challenges?
The heat, light, and pH stability have become a headache for most food color manufacturers. To overcome these stability issues they are using covering agents and wrapping to reflect the UV rays.
Maintaining the proper pH has been very important. For example, anthocyanin gives red color but it will turn purple and get dark or muddy at a certain pH level. So it is important to choose a color that works perfectly within the beverage matrix.
The best form of natural colors: liquid or powder?
The usage of powder form or liquid form of color depends on the food product and the source material. For example, in powder form color may vary. Powders have good stability in terms of shades and hue. The source color has several variables that can cause many effects. For example, the blue color can be dark or light, but when it is added to the solution it would remain consistent.
Both powder and liquid have their advantages and disadvantages. For example, the powder can be used in many applications as it has a longer shelf life and stability in storage. On the other hand, liquids are more versatile and easy to work with.
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