Manufacturers all over the world continue to look to natural ingredient solutions for new product development as consumer demand for nutritious and healthy food keeps increasing

The use of naturally-derived colours in food and beverage

applications has increased considerably over the last five years. Much of this growth is based on increasing consumer demand for natural products.

The market for natural food colourings continues to get brighter as more attention is paid to research linking artificial food colours with hyperactivity and other behavioural problems in children. The increasing consumer awareness of the harmful effect of colour additives is largely attributed to that.

A research study conducted in 2007 by Southampton University showed that artificial colours or a sodium benzoate preservative (or both) in the diet result in hyperactivity in 3-year-old and 8/9-year-old children in the general population and across a range of "62% of parents noticed changes in their children’s behaviour after digesting foods with synthetic colouring”

Known as the 6 Southampton colours are Sunset yellow (E110), Carmoisine (E122), Tartrazine (E102), Ponceau 4R (E124), Quinoline Yellow (E104) & Allura Red (E129).

The European Union has subsequently established regulations on labelling guidelines for food containing the “Southampton colours”. The phrase “May have adverse effect on activity and attention in children” must be highlighted in the labels. Followinggrowing concern from consumers many companies in Europe and the US have taken action to avoid this by switching to natural colours.

“92% are concerned about synthetic colours, and 78% are willing to pay a premium for foods with natural colour” hyperactivity and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) severities.Â

Hyperactivity is associated with the development of educational difficulties, especially in relationto reading, and it affects the ability to learn as well as social behaviour.

Natural trend towards clean label products Increased public awareness of the potentially harmful effect of synthetic colours and regulatory tightening on labelling requirements for certain specific synthetic colours are fuelling the continuation of conversion from synthetic to natural colors.

All over the world new product launches with natural claims (no artificial colours, preservatives, additives) remains in the top trend list (Mintel Market Research, 2010). This has encouraged manufacturers to develop products with as few E numbers as possible, instead mentioning the pigment source (for instance beetroot juice).