Bringing Bright Natural Pink to UHT Processing

Meeting Consumer Expectations in Dairy Categories

qouteDairy and plant-based alternative categories saw strong growth in 2020 and are expected to continue this trend in the next few years. The flavored milk market is up +9% Year-to-Date (YTD), indicating high consumer interest in unique offerings beyond the everyday, as well as opportunities for differentiation through new offerings. On an even more powerful upward swing, plant-based non-dairy alternatives and cream cheeses are up +20% and +15% YTD, respectively.

Innovation and renovation have consumers returning to the dairy section in stores. In either case, natural is now the expectation.

Limited Solutions for UHT-Stable Pink Available on the Market
One hue in high demand is a classic “strawberry milk” pink, traditionally brought to life by FD&C Red #3. As natural has become a mainstream expectation, developers have searched for a shade match to convey the same great taste without sacrificing the famous pink beloved by consumers.

Many dairy products undergo ultra-high temperature (UHT) or high-temperature short time (HTST) processing to kill harmful bacteria and extend the shelf life. While this ensures necessary product safety, it is also quite harsh on many natural color sources used to bring flavors to life visually.


While carmine is an excellent shade match for Red #3 in UHT applications and has strong pH and heat stability, many brands prefer botanically-sourced colors for their plant-based appeal and potential for vegan claims.


Beet can provide a beautiful palette of pinks and reds in dairy applications like ice cream, but is less suitable for higher heat processed dairy products such as milks and cream cheeses.


Most lycopene and highly concentrated red beta carotene solutions offer stable options, but the shades produced by these sources have distinct warm yellow notes, missing the cooler hints of legacy “strawberry milk” pinks.



Watermelon-Rose is a new, cost-effective natural color solution that fills the shade and stability gap for consumers looking for a natural pink strawberry milk in products that undergo HTST, UHT, and retort processing!







Based on lycopene and named for its “perfect pink” color, Watermelon-Rose is a Sensient-exclusive solution that addresses clean-label questions and stability requirements with a beautiful, bright hue. This versatile natural pink color is perfect for developers looking to reach attractive color targets to bring to life flavor profiles like strawberry, watermelon, cotton candy, raspberry, dragon fruit, grapefruit, strawberry cheesecake, and more!

Watermelon-Rose thrives in all sorts of applications, including (but not limited to):


If you’re interested in testing Watermelon-Rose for your next dairy or beverage project, samples are ready to ship TODAY! Request one here. We’re excited to see Watermelon-Rose expand the rainbow for dairy and beverage coloring, and for the future opportunities it offers in categories like sauces, plant-based meat, and confectionery.

If you have questions about the suitability of this solution for your application, please reach out to schedule a consultation with me and my team! We’re excited to unleash the power of nature’s true colors with this bright new shade.

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