Global report on food colours

Clean label trend helps drive natural colours to overtake synthetics

By Nathan Gray contact

- Last updated on GMT

Natural colours have overtaken their synthetic counterparts for the first time ever, and the trend towards clean label products is one of the key drivers according to new data from Mintel and Leatherhead Food Research.

Continuing consumer and retail demand for natural and clean label products - especially within Europe - has helped the market for natural colours boom in recent years, with annual market growth in the last four years estimated to be more than 7% per year.

Such rapid growth has seen the share of the total food colours market taken by natural varieties increase from just around 34% in 2007 to nearly 39% in 2011. And this has led to an important shift in the balance of the market, says Mintel.

For the first time ever, natural colours have a bigger market share than synthetic colours.

The new report​, put together by experts at Mintel and Leatherhead food Research, UK, also reveals a slow-down in growth within the artificial/synthetic colours market, which is now valued at 37% of the overall market compared to 40% in 2007.

“Europe is ahead in terms of the use of natural colours,”​ Chris Brockman, senior global food and drink analyst at Mintel told FoodNavigator.

“There is strong demand from countries like the UK and Germany, which have been strongly pushing for clean label solutions. And so therefore Europe has a greater share of the natural food colours market than say the US, for example, which is slightly behind.”

Brockman suggested that this overall market pattern can also be seen in new product launch data, where the use of natural colours in new food and drink products outweighs the use of synthetic colours by 2:1 on a global basis.

“But this is particularly skewed by region,”​ he explained. “When you look at Europe, for example, the share of natural colours is up to 85%. In Asia it’s about 67%, whilst in North America and Latin America it drops to 50%.”

“That’s because we are still seeing strong use in the confectionary and soft drinks use in particular, in the Americas region.”

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