The rise of natural colouring in savoury products

Consumers are increasingly concerned about their well-being, opting for fresh, healthy and appetising food that is clean label, writes Paul Collins, director of international sales and marketing at GNT Group.

3 December 2018
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Trend predictions for 2019 show an increased focus on healthier snacking occasions. According to Innova Market Insights data, 50% of Generation X want to cut down on their sweet snack consumption and 67% of baby boomers are making changes to their diet to become healthier.

It’s already happening too. Sugar loaded bars are being replaced by protein-rich meat snacks, fruity juices are making space for nutritious broths or soups, and chocolate is competing with plant-based bites such as nuts or salty popcorn.

Next year, consumers are expected to become even more connected with wellness in a trend that is being called ‘plated beauty.’

The importance of natural colour

Today’s consumers are purchasing food and drinks more consciously and have a broader knowledge of which food ingredients may have a bad impact, such as artificial additives. This awareness is leading them to purchase savoury products with clean labels and natural ingredients.

However, at the same time, it is hugely important that food looks and tastes good. Manufacturers are beginning to create colourful snacks, sauces or ready-made meals to meet these demands. When designing such products, it is essential that every ingredient is evaluated, as consumers are reading labels more closely.

Plant-based colour solutions

In the past four years, there has been a 62% increase in plant-based claims, with food colouring a key platform for development in this area. When it comes to colouring savoury applications, the offer in natural opportunities has previously been limited. Manufacturers really had only two options: additive colourants or spices. The first clearly clashes with consumers’ expectations of naturalness and the second contains limited possibilities and may also affect taste. The market is ready for innovation in this area.

With GNT’s product Exberry, manufacturers have a natural colour solution that is well established across a range of food and drink categories, such as dairy, bakery, beverage and confectionery. The plant-based colour range has recently been extended to cover the savoury market, which are made from recognisable vegetables and edible plants such as paprika, carrot or spirulina to fit with savoury recipes.

During the production process, only gentle physical methods such as chopping, filtrating and concentrating are used, in contrast with additive colourants such as carmine, which is chemically modified and is not suitable for vegan or vegetarian diets.

Exberry colours are classified as foods and can be labelled simply as a food ingredient, e.g. concentrate of elderberries, carrot.

Perfect shade for any application

Some solutions have standardised colouring properties, while several raw materials can be combined to achieve others hues. For example, when it comes to snacks, the colour green can enhance the appetising look of spicy wasabi nuts, while in sauces, red or purple solutions can set them apart from the existing offers, which would typically have a paler, brownish or simply not very attractive appearance.

Additionally, using natural ingredients to colour can mask the effect of food processing and stabilise the appearance during the entire shelf-life. Manufacturers can also use them to develop new and richer visual concepts.

Tackling technical challenges to develop perfect products

In order to successfully formulate products using natural colour, it is important to be familiar with specific considerations on how different ingredients in the recipe can affect performance. The selection of the right raw material is particularly crucial – for example, some carotenoid-containing colours can become yellow in the presence of fat and heat.

GNT’s product uses micronized powders to deliver a homogenous result in dry blend seasonings due to their reduced particle size.

Testing the final application is also crucial by exposing a product to extensive heat and light, in order to verify stability and guarantee performance.

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