Social media has spurred changes good and bad—among them, an obsession with photographing food. Today, it’s not enough for food to taste good; it has to look really good.The data show that as consumers continue to improve their awareness of cleaning and the demand for natural pigments, new market demands are driving the development of food coloring.The report predicts that the global food coloring market will be estimated at $3.88 billion by 2018.
But sometimes, making food look good is hard. Take ready-to-drink (RTD) beverages. Drink makers are always searching for vibrant, arresting colors to catch consumer attention, whether via Instagram or on a market shelf. These same manufacturers, however, have also been tasked with using natural colors in place of artificial colors—and natural colors sometimes just don’t stand up to the look and performance of artificial colors, especially in a drink matrix.
“To be successful in beverage applications, natural colors need to be able to withstand pasteurization temperatures as well as be heat and light stable at the desired pH.”
Natural blue is often considered the Holy Grail of the beverage industry. One of the few natural blue sources today,spirulina extract (Arthrospira platensis), was FDA-approved as a color additive in 2013, but spirulina still struggles in acidic beverages and under high-heat processing. In acidic beverages, the color of spirulina extract“may fade rapidly or precipitate,”. Spirulina extract “functions best at a pH between 4 and 8, and it still must be protected from heat and light”.
Given spirulina’s sensitivities in beverages, color suppliers have explored other sources. One of them is a tropical plant called huito (Genipa americana).Huito is said to be more stable in acidic pH and less sensitive to heat and light compared to spirulina.Wild Flavors and Specialty Ingredients offers huito sourced from the Amazon region of Peru as a blue colorant. Juneja called it “the only natural blue that’s acid and heat stable.”Spirulina is going to be a traditional, brighter blue, and huito tends to be more grayish, kind of a navy shade or a shale blue.
As a color, huito is used more as a fruit juice than an extract and thus does not require an FDA color additive petition.When asked whether one can get the same color intensity from a fruit juice as opposed to an extract, they said, “It just depends on the strength of the color you’re looking for. Sometimes the juice is not strong enough, so then you may need an extract.”
In addition,Sensient has a unique anthocyanin,proprietary natural blue source that isn’t huito and that is stable,especially in less-acidic drinks.Its color is actually a purple that appears blueish depending on the pH range, he said. “It’s our source that we’ve discovered that provides a wonderful purple—really deep grape—in the low-pH range, and it’s blue at the higher [less acidic] pH ranges. It’s a beautiful blue, more like a Blue No. 2. It’s more of a denim blue at higher pH ranges, but in the low-pH range, it will be a deep, beautiful purple.”
The source of the article is "nutritional outlook"