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Home / Health & Science

Change the world with natural colours

HEALTH & SCIENCEBy JOGVAN HOUMANN | Mon,May 27 2013 00:00:00 EAT
By JOGVAN HOUMANN | Mon,May 27 2013 00:00:00 EAT

By Jogvan Houmann

Manufacturers all over the world continue to look to natural ingredient solutions for new product development as consumer demand for nutritious and healthy food keeps increasing

The use of naturally-derived colours in food and beverage applications has increased considerably over the last five years. Much of this growth is based on increasing consumer demand for natural products.

The market for natural food colourings continues to get brighter as more attention is paid to research linking artificial food colours with hyperactivity and other behavioural problems in children. The increasing consumer awareness of the harmful effect of colour additives is largely attributed to that.

A research study conducted in 2007 by Southampton University showed that artificial colours or a sodium benzoate preservative (or both) in the diet result in hyperactivity in 3-year-old and 8/9-year-old children in the general population and across a range of "62% of parents noticed changes in their children’s behaviour after digesting foods with synthetic colouring”

Known as the 6 Southampton colours are Sunset yellow (E110), Carmoisine (E122), Tartrazine (E102), Ponceau 4R (E124), Quinoline Yellow (E104) & Allura Red (E129).

The European Union has subsequently established regulations on labelling guidelines for food containing the “Southampton colours”. The phrase “May have adverse effect on activity and attention in children” must be highlighted in the labels. Followinggrowing concern from consumers many companies in Europe and the US have taken action to avoid this by switching to natural colours.

“92% are concerned about synthetic colours, and 78% are willing to pay a premium for foods with natural colour” hyperactivity and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) severities. 

Hyperactivity is associated with the development of educational difficulties, especially in relationto reading, and it affects the ability to learn as well as social behaviour.

Natural trend towards clean label products Increased public awareness of the potentially harmful effect of synthetic colours and regulatory tightening on labelling requirements for certain specific synthetic colours are fuelling the continuation of conversion from synthetic to natural colors.

All over the world new product launches with natural claims (no artificial colours, preservatives, additives) remains in the top trend list (Mintel Market Research, 2010). This has encouraged manufacturers to develop products with as few E numbers as possible, instead mentioning the pigment source (for instance beetroot juice).

The conversion from artificial to natural colours is booming around the world and will continue in the coming years. 

At the same time more and more countries are imposing legislative demands on labelling, which reinforces the conversion trend putting further pressure on food manufacturers to develop new products that are natural and healthy.  

Willing to pay extra

In 2011 a leading Australian Parenting Website, Planning With Kids ran a poll asking parents about Food Colouring

The overwhelming message in the results was a lack of knowledge about synthetic colouring in foods and its impact on children: 

"62.4% of parents said they noticed changes in their children’s behaviour after digesting foods which contain synthetic colouring. 83.7% of parents surveyed were concerned about what synthetic food colourings are made from, but 64.6% did not know what synthetic food colourings are made from."

The food colouring survey was featured on Channel 7 News TV in Australia.

In a recent (2011) consumer survey conducted by the market research company Nielsen on behalf of Chr. Hansen, a global leading bioscience company, 92% are concerned about synthetic colours, and 78% are willing to pay a premium for foods with natural colour. The survey including 5,000 consumers in 10 countries demonstrates why converting to natural has become a mega trend on a global scale.

Food Colours Global Overview

In 2009, the global food colour market was worth an estimated USD 1.45 billion in value terms. The data according to Leatherhead Food Research showed that the market grew by 16% compared with levels in 2005. 

Much of the recent growth has come from the natural colour segment as food and drink manufacturers have started reformulating their products to replace synthetic colours with their natural equivalents.  

The trend towards increased usage of natural colours has been most pronounced in the soft drinks and confectionery industries, where children represent a sizeable target audience. But the move towards clean label products continues to be a consumer priority and is steadily increasing.

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