You don’t have to be a food industry insider to know the term “Yellow 5.” The fuss in the early 2000s over the potential downsides of this artificial food coloring agent made international news. The customer pushback against this particular artificial color was just one incident in the ongoing trend of people being more concerned about the health credentials of their food.
Though consumers have gotten more aware of the ingredients in the food they eat, they have not stopped gravitating toward the vivid colors they have come to expect in their food. We still eat with our eyes, and bright, vivid colors are still going to be a key component in moving products on grocery store shelves.
While the food and beverage industry has long relied on coloring agents and artificial dyes to achieve the appearance of the foods we eat, natural food coloring and natural food dyes are widening the options for producers looking to increase the health credentials of their product without sacrificing on the eye-catching appearance.
What is Natural Food Coloring?
Though modern food production makes heavy use of artificial colors, it turns out Mother Nature has given us some great options when it comes to finding bright, vivid colors to include in the foods we eat and beverages we drink. What is even better is that many natural food colorings are derived from the vegetables many of us should probably be eating more of anyway.
Getting the vibrant color you want and increasing the health credentials of your products at the same time may sound like a deal that is too good to be true. It turns out there are a few catches, but if you choose a quality producer who can provide both consistency and quality, these potential hurdles are easily overcome.
If you are going to use natural food coloring in your products, consistency and quality of the colors and dyes will be paramount. Unlike artificial colors, variance in product quality could affect the potency of the dye. Silva prides itself on the quality of our products and the rigorous preparation process all our products undergo before being shipped to our customers.
Getting pastels out of many natural food colorings is relatively easy. A quick internet search can provide instructions for DIY colored easter eggs with natural dyes like blueberries or pomegranates. Getting a true, vibrant hue out of natural ingredients, though, takes special attention to the preparation and an understanding of how these colors will be included in the final product. Even fine powders can affect the texture of some foods.
For products like cupcakes, cake batter may be able to hide any consistency changes introduced by adding natural colorants, but in purees and juices, getting the tint you want while ensuring the texture your customers will love takes some planning and expertise. It also takes working with a supplier that can provide quality ingredients in exactly the powder size you need. This is why Silva makes many of our products available in custom sizes to meet nearly any need.
What Plants are Used as Natural Food Coloring?
Not all plants are created equal when it comes to viability as a natural food coloring agent. There are some standouts, though, whose properties allow them to be transported, stored, and processed with their vibrant colors intact and useful to add a pop of color to various foods and beverages. A few of the most popular natural food coloring come from the following vegetables and spices:
Fruits such as pomegranates, blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries are also used to bring an extra pop of color to many products, as well as beef up the health credentials of these offerings.
Going Green … or Whatever Color You Need
The natural coloring trend is not just reserved for the organic or gluten-free crowd anymore. Panera, long a staple of the fast-casual market, has removed all artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives from their products. Even candy companies like Mars, hardly at the top of the list of health-food providers, began using natural colorants for their famously vibrant Skittles candy in 2017.
Producing a brilliant matcha-green food coloring or a vibrant red may not seem like a stretch with plant-based pigments. Bright reds, greens, and yellows exist throughout the plant kingdom. Even purple food colorings are relatively easy to come by. The deep red color of beet juice, for example, makes it a logical candidate as a natural food dye. Recently, though, advances in science and manufacturing have broadened the palette of natural food coloring.
Traditionally difficult colors like true blue are finally being created from natural ingredients. Brilliant blue FCF (FD&C Blue No. 1) or E133 has long been the standard for adding this elusive color to the foods we eat, but recent developments in processing techniques have allowed a blue pigment to be derived from red cabbage. By processing the flavonoids called anthocyanins that naturally exist in red cabbage with specialized enzymes, blue dyes can be created that can be used in other food products.
At Silva, we know that the advantage of our products is not just measured in the flavor they provide. In addition to our certified organic products that can provide the organic credentials you need, our products can help you maintain or increase the visual appeal of your products while replacing increasingly unpopular artificial colors and additives.
If you are ready to start exploring the options natural food coloring can provide, contact a member of our customer relationship team today.