Blue as well as purple are the colors to watch in 2018, according to Nathalie Pauleau, colors category manager at Naturex (www.naturex.com). "Consumers like bold, strong flavors, and these colors convey a sense of richness and depth. We expect to see increased demand for spirulina as a clean-label colorant that delivers intense natural blues and purples in food and drink products."
Naturex also has experienced high demand for gluten-free color solutions, mainly in the U.S. market, while interest in non-GMO colorants is also rising. "An emerging trend in Europe is [the need] for palm oil-free options, in response to consumer concerns about the impact of palm oil production on the environment," Pauleau says.
Along with giving potato chips and French fries a run for their money, the sweet potato also can be a source of color. "They're a natural orange or amber color, but as with cauliflower and corn, there are also purple varieties," explains Verderber. "Our sweet potato juice concentrates deliver functional benefits including natural flavor and color for a broad range of applications — everything from juices and sauces to bars and bakery items," he says.
"Purples can be difficult to achieve naturally," he continues. "Accordingly, interest in our Carolina Purple sweet potato juice concentrate continues to grow. Purple sweet potatoes receive their color from anthocyanins, which are desirable for their antioxidative benefits. Carolina Purple also adds natural sweetness and a mild sweet potato flavor. Purple is certainly a fun color, but one we rarely see on our plates. We expect purple popularity to grow as consumers seek out unique color experiences throughout this year."
Titanium dioxide questioned
Although it's Generally Recognized as Safe as a food colorant by the FDA, titanium dioxide, which creates brilliant whites, concerns some consumers. Foods with the highest Ti02 content are candy, gum, mints and toothpastes. Consumers have raised questions about its use and often switched to products without it. Some researchers have found it may be harmful to cognitive and lung health.
"It has been a go-to ingredient for many years due to excellent stability in heat, light, pH, oil, and moisture, but has been at the center of many headlines lately," Sensient's Reed points out. "Unlike the ultrafine titanium dioxide used in some industrial applications, food grade TiO2 does not contain nanomaterial [which raises other concerns]. But there continues to be some public confusion between food- and nonfood-grade versions. Due to the confusion and negative publicity, it’s not surprising some brands have initiatives to seek options."
Sensient offers Ti02-free Avalanche natural white opacifiers, which can be used in any pH system and application, the company says. Avalanche offers a suite of simple starch- and mineral-based selections, including those for low- and mid-water activity applications, panned confections, coating systems and frosted cereals.
Naturex offers two options. One is calcium carbonate in powder and liquid formats. Recently approved in some applications in the U.S., it’s suitable for use in non-acid food formulas. But "Calcium carbonate reacts in the presence of acid and loses its whitening properties," explains Pauleau. The company's recently developed Vegebrite White, a clean-label vegetable-sourced alternative, is not pH-sensitive, so it can be used in confections, even at a low pH, she says.