By Rene Fonteijn, Industry business manager, Beverages at Chr. Hansen Natural Colors A/S
For several years now, the macro trend “Health & Wellness” has become the new normal for a large group of consumers – people who demand healthy products that meet the challenges of a balanced diet and lifestyle.
“Health & Wellness” is a comprehensive term with various interpretations. For a small group of consumers, it means finding a product that provides added health benefits (e.g. added vitamins, minerals). For the majority, the definition is much broader and the perception of a healthy product often has to do with naturality and sustainability. Regional production and natural ingredients are some examples that drive a positive consumer perception.
The “Health & Wellness” trend is reflected in the skyrocketing growth of worldwide launches in juices and smoothies, fermented beverages, craft sodas and beer, and low-alcohol drinks. The "juicification" of soft drinks is another example of responding to consumer preferences for healthier products and at the same time appealing to a younger audience. It’s important to remember that although consumers seek healthy products, they are not willing to compromise on taste or visual appeal. This poses a challenge to beverage manufacturers worldwide.
Research shows that consumers are skeptical of the food industry and their level of trust towards food and beverage brands has declined. Consumers demand products with ingredients that are recognizable and easy-to-understand. With all the digital technology available today, it has become easier for consumers to get information about how products are made and what they are made from. For food and beverage brands, it means that transparency and simplicity are no longer optional.
In response to this, manufacturers are innovating with new formulations. This requires a new ingredient and sourcing strategy to meet the challenges of developing products that are naturally and visually appealing. Typically, this results in using ingredients in their simplest form by only using minimally processed, natural ingredients that are free from additives or preservatives.
By only using natural ingredients, brands can differentiate from other products, strengthen their credibility and give their product a more premium appeal. However, manufacturers need to go the extra mile to become more natural and sustainable. The ingredients chosen must be carefully selected, to ensure they come from responsible sources and are easy to understand on the label. Within colors, this is reflected in a demand for visually appealing, natural ingredients from natural sources, that use traditional production methods.
From a technical perspective, natural coloring ingredients provide significant value but also come with their own set of challenges. Therefore, expert guidance is necessary in order to achieve the best results. Chr. Hansen has developed the FruitMax range, which fulfills both industry requirements and also meets consumer demands by offering a full palette of colors from natural sources. By using innovative production processes and formulations, FruitMax colors can create products that are stable and robust, even in the most challenging applications.
Products within the FruitMax range meet the EU guidelines of “coloring foods”, or the US regulation for “minimally processed fruit and vegetable concentrates”. This means products can be simply labelled as concentrates or extracts from fruit or vegetables, instead of e-numbers. This supports brands trying to achieve a cleaner label, by eliminating undesirable products from their formulation and declaration.
Working closely with agronomists and the raw material supply chain is key to Chr. Hansen’s success in providing natural colors for the beverage industry. They carefully select the best sources in order to produce the most stable pigments, developing products tailored to targeted applications. A good example of this is the Hansen sweet potato, an award-winning product from our FruitMax range. Bred specifically for the color industry, it has proven to be one of the most stable anthocyanins currently on the market. Chr. Hansen offers several products made from Hansen sweet potato, and it performs particularly well in carbonated soft drinks, sports and energy drinks, low-alcohol drinks, juicy drinks, fermented drinks and near waters.
Our last addition to the range is an efficient coloring foods turmeric that can be used in beverages providing a bright yellow shade. The name of the color is FruitMax Yellow 1000 WSS. For legislative reasons, FruitMax Yellow 1000 WSS is likely to find its core markets in Europe, Latin America and APAC. It is fully compliant with the EU Coloring foodstuffs guidelines, and therefore is a clean label color that can be listed as turmeric extract.
To summarize, the “Health & Wellness” trend is here to stay but consumer beliefs around this subject are extremely fragmented. Rethinking ingredients and drawing on partner expertise is the key to successful reformulations. For brands that want to tap into multiple trends such as naturality and sustainability, while still delivering healthy products that don’t compromise on taste or visual appeal, ingredients like natural colors can make the difference.
Chr. Hansen is the world leader in natural colors. We apply our deep knowledge and insights about pigments, applications, and regulatory requirements around the globe to help our customers – and consumers – bring safe and appetizing food to the table. Sourced from nature, our color portfolio is the largest and most vibrant in the food industry, and our active role in the industry spans 145years. We are part of Chr. Hansen Holding, who develops natural ingredient solutions for the food, nutritional, pharmaceutical and agricultural industries. Chr. Hansen employs over 3,000 people in 30 countries and is listed on Nasdaq Copenhagen. Feel free to contact us at any time to discuss your natural color needs.