Palm-Free Colours to Support Sustainability

With increasing awareness and concern regarding sustainability, more and more consumers are looking for food and beverage products that can help them to make greener choices. For example, “environmental impact”, is an important factor to take into consideration when choosing food and drink products according to one-third of Italian consumers (Mintel).


Palm oil is a popular ingredient in many food and beverage applications. Its production has skyrocketed over the past 20 years, to the extent that palm oil is now the world’s most widely produced vegetable oil due to its favourable properties, (low in saturated fat, free of trans fats, extremely stable, and low in cost). The sustainability of palm oil, however, remains a controversial subject. The rapid expansion of palm oil plantations has raised concerns regarding deforestation and the loss of wildlife habitats.

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44 % of UK consumers agree that cakes, cake bars, and sweet baked goods containing palm oil are off-putting (Mintel)

As a result, the use of palm oil in food and beverage ingredients is widely discussed and frequently highlighted these days, for example, palm oil used as a carrier in natural food colours and flavours. In light of this environmental and ethical debate, as well as corporate sustainability agendas, customers contact us more frequently in pursuit of alternative options to palm-containing ingredients.

In December 2022, as part of the European Green Deal, the European Commission agreed to a new law to fight global deforestation and forest degradation driven by EU production and consumption. “Once adopted, the new law will ensure that certain commodities placed on the EU market will no longer contribute to deforestation and forest degradation in the EU and elsewhere in the world. When the new rules are implemented, all relevant companies will have to conduct strict due diligence if they place key goods, including palm oil, onto the EU market, or export from it. The European Parliament and the Council first have to adopt the new Regulation formally before it can come into force. Once the Regulation is in force, operators and traders will have 18 months to implement the new rules”. (European Commission)

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Sensient has a long-standing commitment to operate in a legal, ethical, and responsible manner with a strong emphasis on corporate responsibility and sustainable business practices. We strive to reduce our footprint on the planet by reducing waste, finding ways to improve energy efficiency and developing new technologies that help us conserve natural resources while providing safe, quality products for consumers around the world. Sensient Food Colors Europe was a pioneer in the introduction of the first palm-free colour range on the market more than a decade ago.

Given Sensient’s focus on understanding and meeting consumer and customer needs, it was necessary to create a new, entirely palm-free product range. Through a dedicated research programme, Sensient started launching solutions with a novel selection of exclusively palm-free components. Extensive and ongoing validation continues to ensure high stability and safe product performance without compromises.


In certain cases, the regulatory context in some countries or regions can limit alternatives to palm oil. In those instances, our target is to maximize the use of certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO) raw materials and support the integrity of the trade in sustainable palm oil.

Sensient provides a comprehensive range of palm-free colouring foods and natural colours that enable customers to formulate without palm-containing ingredients. The Sensient portfolio provides unique and outstanding colouring solutions, in which not only the active pigment but all ingredients are free of palm-derived components. This vibrant range has identical colouring properties, the same product performance and characteristics and, in fact, in some cases exceeds that of its palm-based equivalent. Extensive testing has demonstrated excellent stability and effective protection against colour degradation.

Sensient strives to continuously evolve and expand new product developments based on palm-free ingredients, resulting in unique and relevant products that add value. The most recent palm-free innovation is our new range of oil-dispersible colouring foods, based on proprietary manufacturing technology. These preparations create vivid and attractive colouring effects for decorations, fillings and coatings in bakery or confectionery applications.

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Have you discovered the palm-free range available in all shades of the rainbow and for all applications? If you would like to get in touch with us, our expert team would be glad to assist in your palm-free formulations.

If you are interested in more sustainability initiatives from Sensient Food Colors, discover our agronomy program, which we call “seed-to-shelf ”.

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