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Essay: Natural colors and flavors: Driven forces for food industries and their future perspectives

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Food colors play an important role in our daily life where we select our food depends on its appearance. Because public perception about food depends on its appearance and start thinking about taste and nutrients present in the food even before we taste them. On other hand increasing concerns about artificial colors, now a day’s people are going with natural colorants, which are described to provide all kinds of benefits without much side effects as compared to artificial colors. With increasing awareness among public about natural colors in food systems and their increasingly specific and directional consumer requirements, its creating more pressure on food industries to incorporate natural colors. So here I focused and provide extensive approach on natural colorants in food systems and future prospective, choice and applications, product insight, application insight, regional insights, food color market insights, and global wide market for it. Health consciousness among people act like a driven factor for increasing demand for natural colorants for past few decades. And now more than 70 per cent of food industries are using natural colorants in order to attract more consumers.


Food color enhance the appearance of food products such as soft drinks, beverages, confectionary, dairy and bakery products. Natural colors in food system play a major role beyond the aesthetic value by providing nutritional functionality, preserving nutritional value, and gives the relative perception for viewers about nutritional aspects of food. The question pops up in our mind, why should food manufacturing companies be using color additives, the answer is to feast the eyes of consumer and increasing their sales. Because people are strongly influenced by perception based on sight. Color additives on varied foods play a crucial role in quality of food product and its commercialization (Rani et al., 2004). Because color is produced by combination of physical and chemical characteristics of food. Colors of different food items indicates their food safety aspects for examples apples are red, if any deviation in this specified red color gives consumers inappropriate ideas such as spoilage or faulty transpiration. Since the civilization, several food products have been processed using different food colorants to give appealing presentation to the consumers (Costa, 2009). One such example of natural food colorants that has been using from time immoral is saffron, which gives both color and flavor to the food products. On other side, rapid urbanization during 19th century causes drastic changes in food industry by using synthetic colorants in foods. Synthetic colorants were used extensively in food, medicine, and cosmetics, because they are cheaper, more stable and brighter than natural colors. However  after knowing about the carcinogenic nature their usage is diminished slowly. In this context natural colorants started playing major role in food coloring as well as in cosmetic industry. Food industry revolutionized by introducing terms such as functional, medicinal, and nutraceutical foods by activist movement exploiting concept of healthier food (Satyanarayana et al., 2010).  However, industrialization during 19th century brings a lot of changes in food chemistry by introducing synthetic food colorants derived from minerals which introduced into food stuff. In this context, lead chromate and copper sulfate had been used in many food stuffs. These artificial colorants were used extensively in many food products widely. Health consciousness among people brought many changes in usage of artificial colors and their importance diminished gradually (Burrows, 2009).

Choice and application of colors in food systems:

Color decides quality and commercialization of product; however, several factors decides the choice of color such as physical form of food stuff (such as solid, liquid, and gel), properties of food stuff that gets colored (such as oil-based food or water-based food stuff), processing conditions (heating or cooling), and finally shelf life of product. Product coloration is highly depending on colors that being used in preparation or else bad selection of color would create some unwanted color combination due to enzymatic reactions between actual food stuff and applied color. Natural color selection plays a healthier alternative to artificial food coloring. With increasing health awareness among consumers antioxidant rich foods becoming more popular which are having natural colorants. The most common color pigments are carotenoids, chlorophylls, betalains, anthocyanins, lycopenes etc. Among these carotenoids are most important group of natural colorants that has been using in food systems. Carotenoid group comprises of varied range of colors such as yellow, orange, red and these have been used extensively as coloring pigments (Kamatar, 2013). Mainly yellow and orange food colors are producing from carotenoids bixin and norbixin but these natural food colorants are not guaranteed to retain their original colors under different circumstances such has higher temperature, exposure to light, change in pH may bring changes in color of food product. These are circumstances make the natural food product pricier than artificial food colors. And extraction of natural colorants from sources such as beetroot, grape, purple cabbage, and paprika gives good impression about food products to consumers and they feel safe about it unlike artificial colors. However worldwide in different countries many food color regulations are in focus.  There are strict rules in food regulations where no one should cover up bad processing or any kind of manipulations as strategies in food processing by using colorants as masking agents. In addition to the many benefits of natural colors in food products there are certain limitations which includes low stability in food formulation, processing, and storage conditions. In addition to these there are chances of development of undesirable flavor, taste, and odor (Giusti and Wrolstad, 2003).

Global prospective

The global food colors market size was estimated at USD 1.79 billion in 2016, and projected to reach $3,210 million by 2023, registering a CAGR of 9.8% over the forecast period from 2017 to 2023. Governments of Spain and Germany have launched and successfully implemented numerous campaigns to promote healthier lifestyles by introducing innovative healthy products to reduce obesity, cholesterol, and diabetes over the past few years. The trend is more likely expected to play an important role in promotion of natural food colors in consumables. Having said the concerns started raised by consumers regarding the use of natural carmine extracted from cochineal insects is encouraging the manufacturers to seek other alternatives. With LycoRed producing its Lyc-O-Beta carotene orange color through the fermentation of the Blacksiea trispora fungus, Chr. Hansen is also trying to manufacture carmine through a similar process. Companies are also searching for alternatives owing to the fluctuating prices of carmine (Motto, 2000).

Product insight

Food product manufacturing sector is expected to dominate by natural food color accounting for over 80% of the total market revenue. The demand for natural color additives is increasing worldwide owing to the growing awareness among consumers regarding the health benefits associated with natural food colors. And the market for synthetic food colors is expected to grow on account of growing product use by consumers across the developing economies. In addition, the demand for synthetic colors, such as green and blue, is expected to be driven primarily by their use in beverage manufacturing industry. Natural food additives are categorized into taste enhancers, stabilizers, emulsifiers, preservatives, and coloring agents (Shim et al., 2011). And used for flavouring, to extend shelf life, promote safety and especially attract the consumers for ages (Wadhwani and McMahon, 2012).

Application insights

Foods colors added to foods to increase their appearance. Many ready to drink such as carbonated soft drinks and non-alcoholic beverages are expected to gain largest growth rate of 6.4% over the forecast period on account of rising disposable income and economic development. In addition, rising demand for ready-to-drink beverages is expected to translate into heightened demand for the product, leading to industry growth. Non-dairy food application accounted for the largest segment owing to the increasing use of product in sauces & salad dressings, chocolates, desserts and bakery products. Burgeoning use of food colors in processed meat industry in order to improve the aesthetics appeal of the product is expected to drive the market growth.

Regional insights

Asia Pacific is expected to witness the highest range of growth in natural color food additives. and also exhibits high adoption of nature-identical products driven by superior product properties such as uniform color and comparatively lower cost than natural food colors. Developing countries like India, China, Korea and others are expected to show grow in terms of food industry prospective. In addition, high adoption of product in the production of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages is also expected to drive the market growth. The European Union is come up with 43 colors and for which E number has been given as a food additive. Among them 26 are natural colors and remaining 17 are artificial pigments (Downham and Collins, 2000).

Food color market share insights

Raising concern about synthetic colors among consumers, manufacturing sector got succeeded to attract consumers towards natural food colorants and also health consciousness people started preferring natural colorants on their foods. In this context biggest food manufacturing company rejected synthetic colors on their food colors. This trend anticipated to gain a very big impact on consumption of foods with natural colorants. The industry players focus on research and development of new products to improve characteristics such as thermal and pH stability.

Global food color market demand and future perspectives:

China is going to be global lead in food color market in next few years both in manufacturing and distribution sector by creating awareness among consumers about usage of natural colors in foods. But global food additive market has been influenced by two major components such as consumer preference towards the natural colors over artificial/synthetic food colorants and post harvest life of applied natural colors on food products (Scotter, 2011).  With increasing demand for natural food color additives has been fully satisfied for present consumer demand. But exponentially increase of health consciousness among consumers creating pressure for production of new natural colorants and as well as formulations from varied sources such as calyces(sepals) of roselle, because this particular plant species yields brilliant red or purple-red juices which can be used in food product preparation and food color formulations (Lourith and Kanlayavattanakul, 2013).

Production of natural colorants using eco-friendly extraction methods such as supercritical fluid extraction, ultrasonic-assisted extraction, solid phase extraction etc result in higher yields and better quality of extracts than traditional methods. And large-scale production of food color additives in bioreactors might open up new perspectives in food industry. Natural colors based on microbial pigments being an important source for food industries to produce foods with medicinal properties. Because evidence showed that microbial based pigments has potent immune modulatory effects and also documented inhibition of polyclonal proliferation of T cells (Kavitha et al., 2010). With increasing advancements in fermentation techniques have led to the easy production and isolation of natural color pigments, made food industries to incorporate them in different food products (Araujo et al., 2010). To achieve medicinal properties in foods one has to look into the various extraction procedure and parameters on the rate of production of microbial pigments. And future studies should be more focused on chemical structure of microbial pigments and their structure-function relationship.


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