Industry makes tentative steps towards organic food colours

By Guy Montague-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Chr hansen Organic food Supply and demand Germany

Chr Hansen has an organic food colour project at development stage in the US although the Danish supplier said the market is unlikely to become significant in the near term.

As a specialist in natural colours, Chr Hansen has reaped the rewards of a big switch away from synthetics in recent years – its colours & blends division grew 26 per cent in the financial year 2009/2010.

This popularity of natural colouring has been accompanied by some interest in organics.

Monitoring organic progress

Carsten Bennike, executive VP of colours & blends, told that the Chr Hansen has begun a project in the US, adding that the company is keeping an eye on the market.

“We are looking at trends in the market and we see organic becoming a trend in some staples – it could become relevant to our business.”

But currently the explosion of natural colours has not prompted the industry to make any big strides into organic territory.

This is despite years of high market growth that has remained healthy on a global level even through the recession. In Europe, despite black spots like the UK, growth dipped to a still healthy 4-5 per cent in the depths of the recession and is now starting to pick up again, according to Organic Monitor.

Lack of supply

Bennike explained that at present one of the main barriers to the development of organic colours is a lack of supply. “There is not sufficient supply at the moment to have a full pallet of organic colours. We use thousands of tons of raw material and there is now not enough organic supply.”

Added to that is a demand problem as there is no regulatory requirement in the US or Europe for food processors to use organic colours. Both rule books allow a small percentage of non-organic ingredients.

But Amarjit Sahota, managing director of Organic Monitor, said this could change if the supply situation changes. “When supply and production are sufficient to meet demand, it would put pressure on the EU and US to update the regulations. This happened with organic feed and could happen with organic colours.”

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