Leveraging the Power of Natural Colourings in Sweet Dairy – Technical Considerations

Promising outlook for dairy products

Health has become one of the topmost priorities among consumers since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Consumers have been implementing proactive and preventative measures to holistically address their physical and mental well-being. As a result, food and beverages, which are perceived to be healthier, more natural or even functional, have been enjoying growing interest.

At the same time, fast-paced lifestyles and evolving consumer needs are driving the popularity of snacking in recent years. As dairy products often hold a healthy and nutritious image in the eye of consumers, yoghurts and yoghurt drinks and even dairy desserts have a great opportunity to be positioned as a better-for-you snack alternative.

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of Spanish consumers consume yoghurt or yoghurt drinks at least 2-6 times a week.


of Polish consumers aim to support their immune system with yoghurt/yoghurt drinks.


of Italian consumers reported consuming yoghurt and yoghurt drinks typically as a snack in between meals.


Due to their growing popularity as a healthy treat or snack, dairy products and plant-based alternatives saw strong growth in recent years. The value of the dairy and soy food market grew by 8% in Eastern Europe and close to 4% in Western Europe between 2019 and 2021 (Global Data). According to Euromonitor, this trend will further continue with sales of dairy products and alternatives recording a yearly growth of 3.4-4.6% in Europe between 2021 and 2026.

The power and potential of
colour in dairy products

The final appearance of dairy products plays a critical role in consumers’ purchase decision. Meeting the visual expectation based on the flavour profile is one thing, but Sensient consumer research has validated further the value of colour:

Colour is an important driver of product appeal and product associations

Colour intensity can raise consumer impression of a more appetizing and higher quality product

Colour intensity can raise consumer impression of a more tasty and flavourful product

Colour can increase overall liking and purchase intent significantly

Today’s consumers are increasingly aware of what goes into their food and beverages, therefore naturalness has a growing appeal and importance.

Plant-based solutions like colouring foods and natural colours deliver an appetizing look while supporting clean label preferences. When working with natural colourings in dairy-based applications, developers need to take into consideration some technical details in order to achieve and maintain the desired final colour:

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The pH level of the final product
The time when colouring is applied:
before or after fermentation

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For example, anthocyanins need acidity to be stable. Left: before fermentation, not stable due to neutral pH, right: stable due to low pH after fermentation

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Processing conditions, including heat treatment such as cooking, pasteurization, or UHT

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Changes that can occur in the colour due to heat treatment (before & after)

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Fat content

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The same dosage of colouring in skimmed milk (0.3%), normal milk (3.5%), and cream (30%)

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Storage conditions
Packaging type: degree of
exposure to light

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Possible fading due to transparent packaging/light exposure (after one hour in the window)

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Chance for colour migration depending on the product concept

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Colouring with low migration properties /
Colouring with high migration properties

To meet virtually any needs, Sensient has developed a wide range of colouring foods and natural colours with great performance and stability in a variety of dairy-based products. Our colour experts are here to help you to find the most suitable natural solution that will visually enhance your product and help to meet consumer expectations.

Are you looking for some colorful inspiration for your sweet dairy development? Discover some naturally eye-catching concepts driven by current trends here.

Do you already have a shade in mind for your next development? Are you looking for a natural or clean label alternative to the current colouring you use? Request a sample of your need in a few seconds.

Would you like to discuss technical details with our expert team? Please, feel free to request a consult and we will set up a meeting with you.

Are you working on plant-based dairy alternatives? Here you can find more information about trends and colouring solutions for this upcoming category.

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