Organic Color Innovation in 2019

Recent consumer data indicates that growth in organic foods continues to be very strong, with demographic trends hinting at a likely acceleration in this trend. According to Nielsen household panel data, U.S. consumers spent almost 10% more on organic foods in 2018 compared to 2017.

What is equally as interesting is the generational data that shows younger cohorts are accelerating both shopping trips and spend at a faster rate than the overall average. Millennials grew their organic spend by 14% in 2018, while Gen Xers were not far behind. As younger Millennials grow their families, this generation will continue to drive growth in the adoption rate for organic foods and beverages.



Another trend for organics is the retail ‘mainstreaming’ of these products. Led in large part by store brands such as Kroger’s Simple Truth, Albertson’s ‘O’ organics, and similar offerings from Walmart and Costco, traditional shopping channels are growing their share of organic foods and beverages.

Conventional grocery, club stores, and mass market are all enjoying share gains at the expense of traditional natural channel retailers. The growth channels typically offer organic consumers lower prices, which in turn is likely to increase household penetration.

At Sensient, we expect organic foods and beverages will continue to expand into new packaged food categories and have been working to expand the range of certified organic color sources available. More recently, our innovation team has been working to expand the range of color technologies for organics as well.




Sensient’s Microfine technology was initially developed to provide food manufacturers with natural colors that had the same plating characteristics as synthetic lakes. The product range has proved to be enormously popular with food manufacturers of snack foods, confections, and baked goods or snacks with fat-based coatings.

One of the key advantages of Microfine is its ability to disperse natural color evenly and eliminate the typical specking issues associated with natural powders. Microfine colors provide nice, uniform color in salty snacks, powdered cheese mixes, drink mixes, and topical seasonings. If you are experiencing the classic ‘peppery’ look commonly seen with natural powders, a Microfine powder will probably alleviate the issue.

The second Microfine advantage is color migration (or bleed) in fat-based coatings like icings. Microfine technology can mitigate or even eliminate the tendency for natural and organic colors to bleed.

And finally, Microfines behave like both lakes and dyes. This is especially advantageous in beverage mixes, because it enables manufacturers to color both the dry powder and the hydrated beverages with the same color.

For a full rundown of Sensient’s Microfine technology, I recommend watching this video featuring Zach Henderson, one of the Technical Service managers in Sensient’s color lab.

Certified Organic Microfines

As you might imagine, interest in certified organic options of Microfine has been high. Our innovation and supply chain teams spent the past year collaborating to create the industry’s only line of plating grade certified organic colors.

This initial range of three organic microfine colors includes:


For yellow shades in topical seasonings and fat-based systems. The performance of the certified organic microfine is identical to Sensient’s natural version.



For yellow to dark yellow and orange shades in topical seasonings and fat-based systems. This certified organic version is stronger and slightly more reddish than Sensient’s natural Orange Microfine.



For pink to spicy red shades in topical seasonings, fat-based systems, and beverages. This certified organic option is a truer, less blue, red than the comparable natural Berry Microfine and can be used at a lower usage rate.


Additionally, custom blends can be created to match target shades as needed. We are excited about the opportunities the new range will create for manufacturers and invite you to reach out for a consultation with one of Sensient’s color experts.

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