Emulsion Stability in RTD Sparkling Beverages

The Value of Colour in Beverages

Girl Drinking Outside

While the word “taste” refers to what is detected by our taste buds, consumers’ perception of taste goes much further than that. Tasting a beverage is a multi-sensory experience constructed from a number of things including our palate, along with the beverage’s visual appearance, aroma, and mouthfeel. Our brains use all of our senses to interpret the beverage and arrive at the decision of our overall liking.

In beverages, colour plays a prominent role in establishing a consumer’s flavour expectation prior to tasting. The colour must match the consumers’ frame of reference for its respective flavour. For example, one would probably expect a sparkling strawberry beverage to be a matching berry colour shade or a mango-flavoured juice to be bold orange. Understanding consumer perspective is very important, especially since more than any other attribute, taste expectation (which can be impacted by colour) drives consumer liking. Our research indicates brighter colours are preferred in beverages because of their association to a better and sweeter taste.

Aet Logo

The Complexities and Necessities of Beverage Emulsions

With the growing popularity of sparkling beverages, we are seeing a wave of interest in natural colour emulsions. Any colours from the carotenoid family like beta-carotenes, paprika, or turmeric require emulsification to function in water-based systems like a sparkling beverage base. Inherently, carotenoids are oil-soluble, however emulsions enable them to become water-soluble or –dispersible. Sensient’s Advanced Emulsion Technology (AET™) and equipment innovatively decrease the particle size of the oil-soluble colours and transforms them into a stable water-soluble or water-dispersible solution.

Sensient Colours

High Stability Yellow Box

High Stability < 50 nm

Industry Standard

Low Stability Yellow Box

Low Stability > 200+ nm

Although complex, emulsions significantly add value to many popular beverage concepts, and are able to drive flavour expectations. Given the correlation of colour and taste on purchase intent, developers should certainly not sacrifice on colour performance in the formulation. They enable developers to achieve natural colour shades that were previously unattainable, yet formulating with them requires some experience.

One of the biggest challenges for beverage developers is maintaining the emulsion’s stability. The results of a broken emulsion can be pretty undesirable including colour agglomeration, cap staining, and/or colour ringing.

Multicolored Bottles
Sauces On Caps 01


Sauces On Caps 02


Since many of the ingredients in a beverage system could potentially be emulsions or contain emulsifiers with the exception of water and most sweeteners, there is a high possibility for ingredient interaction. Given our teams’ experience developing with emulsions, we would like to share some insights on how to enhance equilibrium.

Step 7: Citric Acid

Step 6: Cloud Emulsion

Step 5: Juice

Step 4: Colour Emulsion

Step 3: Flavour Emulsion

Step 2: Sweetener(s)

Step 1: Water

Arrow With Juices


What can happen?

Multiple emulsions in a beverage system increases the chance for undesirable reactions or incompatibility between ingredients, potentially resulting in a coalescence.

Colour Advice:

One way to mitigate this risk is through order of addition, by adding the colour emulsion last, which can reduce the potential for unintended interactions.

Juice Bottle

Colour ringing as a result of broken emulsions


Example: Like colours sourced from carotenoids, ingredients used for fortification, such as some vitamins , are innately oil-soluble and require emulsification of their oil particle in order to be fully incorporated into a water-based system, like a sparkling beverage.

What can happen?

Sometimes the emulsifier used to make a vitamin for fortification is not compatible with another emulsion in the beverage system, such as the flavour or colour. If incompatibility is the case, all of the systems’ emulsions are highly susceptible to breaking. As one emulsion breaks, it can create multiple interactions and disruptions in the beverage formula.

Colour Advice

While trial and error testing is one way of working through incompatibility issues, the most efficient way would be teaming up with an experienced colour partner with knowledge in ingredient compatibility. Sensient’s longstanding history as both a colour and flavour supplier has provided us with a vast collection of ingredient compatibility data at our fingertips. Our application team uses this evolving data in their research projects to continuously optimize formulations.

Bottle Yellow



Developing a mango flavour emulsion independently from the yellow beta-carotene colour emulsion

Water DropsBeta–Carotene Colour Emulsion

Red CloudsCloud Emulsion

MangoMango Flavour Emulsion

What can happen?

The emulsifiers in the flavour emulsion may not be compatible with those used in the colour emulsion, resulting in adverse interactions and results.

Colour Advice:

Partner with a supplier who is able to manage systems together (colour, flavour, and cloud).

At Sensient Colours, we leverage the expertise of our sister company, Sensient Flavours, as well as our collaborations with other flavour houses to create integrated solutions such as:

  1. Combining colour and flavour emulsions into one compatible system
  2. Ensuring the separate emulsions are compatible by formulating with the flavour house and the beverage manufacturer
  3. Using our Smooth Cloudy Emulsions technology to offer a combined solution of colour and cloud in a range of shades

If you are experiencing any of these challenges, Sensient’s application team is always happy to help. With our long experience in beverage formulation combined with our close collaboration with flavour colleagues, we would be glad to support in any projects to create your next generation of beverages.

Get started today by requesting your colour emulsion shade here.

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