Natural Color Advancements in Gummy Confections and Fruit Snacks

March 2019

Mott’s, Annie’s, Black Forest, and Welch’s are brands that were amongst the first to convert to natural food colors in the gummy and fruit snack category. These brands effectively leveraged consumer insights and executed through product development. While they were able to nimbly respond to consumer demand for natural ingredients, cost-in-use concerns remain a barrier for some other brands.

However, the natural food colors available today are different from the ones on the market just a few short years ago. To address the core technical challenges in fruit snacks and gummies, there have been many advancements in new shade and color offerings, as well as many improvements to cost-in-use. I’m excited to share some of our updates in these three areas at Sensient.

NEW SHADE OFFERINGS

Natural Greens

A big void in the natural color industry continues to be a low pH bright blue and green. These shades are particularly challenging since the blue color is so rare in nature, and the blue is pivotal in making green.

Additionally, there is another layer of complexity due to FDA restrictions on spirulina. Currently, spirulina color is approved for use in confection, gelatin, ice cream, as well as icings and frostings. Since most fruit snack brands do not classify their product as confections, blues and greens from spirulina are only viable options for gummy confections.

While we continue to look at new technology approaches that may make this rarity a possibility in the next few years, innovation with our current blue vegetable juice and spirulina provides us a good foundation for building natural green food colors.

Adding natural colors post cook in the production line would also open the door to many of the natural color offerings that are heat sensitive.

GREEN BLEND SPIRULINA DISPERSION

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NATURAL BLUE VEGETABLE JUICE + BETA-CAROTENE

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NEW COLOR OFFERINGS

Certified Organic Food Colors

Sensient has been committed to creating the broadest range of USDA Certified Organic food color solutions to cater to the rapid growth of organic options across all food aisles. Today, we offer a full range of certified organic colors in virtually every color under the rainbow.

Here are some offerings applicable to gummies and fruit snacks that are freshly picked from our certified organic portfolio:

Organic Purple Sweet Potato

Organic Red Cabbage

Organic Black Carrot

Organic Elderberry Juice

Organic Beet Juice

Organic Orange Carrot Liquid

Organic Turmeric Powder

Organic Blue Vegetable Juice

Organic Caramel Liquid

Organic Caramel Powder

From a technical standpoint, certified organic colors behave just like natural food colors. Depending on the duration and intensity of the gummy or fruit snack processing, organic beets can be sensitive to heat. Organic anthocyanin colors will shade shift across the different pH levels and in the presence of ascorbic acid. In pure pigment form, organic turmeric would require a heat step to develop the yellow color, and like all turmeric, it is light-sensitive. My team of dedicated color experts are always here to help you navigate the different inherent properties of our organic and natural food colors; they can ensure you have the right solution for your formulation, processing parameters, and packaging style.
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COST-IN-USE IMPROVEMENTS

Through our R&D teams, agronomy program, and strategic acquisitions, we have tirelessly been working on reducing the cost-in-use of natural colors to make innovation easier for food manufacturers. We have made strong headway with a number of our color solutions.

With our expansion into Peru, we are now participating earlier in the color process for carmine and annatto. Carmine is a highly stable and vibrant pink to red shade for gummy and fruit snack applications. Annatto requires special stabilization to prevent color precipitation due to the acidity but provides bold peach to blood orange citrus shades.

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PERUVIAN ANNATTO POD

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COLOR FROM CARMINE

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COLOR FROM ACID-PROOF ANNATTO

There are a number of benefits to a vertically integrated supply chain of carmine and annatto, but the most advantageous to gummy and fruit snack developers is improved cost.

Additionally, in the last couple of years, Sensient’s agronomy program has been naturally breeding a number of key botanicals like black carrots for optimal pigment concentration and unique shade varietals. Black carrots provide very appealing pink to red to deep magenta colors in gelatin bases. Coloring solutions from highly concentrated black carrots typically equate to lower usage levels and lower impact on the total formulation cost.

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SENSIENT’S NON-GMO NATURALLY BRED BLACK CARROT WITH HIGH PIGMENT CONCENTRATION

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SHADES FROM BLACK CARROT RED VARIETAL

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SHADES FROM BLACK CARROT BLUE VARIETAL

Similar to black carrot, our agronomy program has been working on increasing the color content in Sensient’s novel blue botanical. Color from this blue vegetable juice exhibits unique shades at fairly low usage levels. It is an ideal option for blue raspberry shades in gummy and fruit snack bases above pH 3.8 and for rich blueberry shades in lower pH levels.

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BLUE VEGETABLE JUICE ABOVE PH 3.8

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BLUE VEGETABLE JUICE BELOW PH 3.8

If you’re looking for ginger, root beer, or chocolate shades from a natural colr, the addition of Sienna™ to our natural brown portfolio is an attractive option. It is a highly concentrated fruit juice exclusive to Sensient that provides heat and light-stable brown shades in a very cost-effective manner.

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SIENNA FRUIT JUICE AT DIFFERENT USAGE LEVELS

Lastly, to overcome the yellowish and brown tints in a majority of gummy and fruit snack bases, we launched our Avalanche opacity portfolio a few years back for manufacturers looking for alternative options to titanium dioxide.

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AVALANCHE EXTRA AT DIFFERENT USAGE LEVELS

Since this initial launch, we have achieved cost improvement due to production efficiencies. There are two main drivers of our improved efficiency:

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INCREASED DEMAND AND VOLUMES

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A PARTNERSHIP THAT MAKES SENSIENT MORE VERTICALLY INTEGRATED ON KEY INGREDIENTS FOR AVALANCHE

Overall, there are many more options for naturally colored fruit snacks and gummy confections than was the case a few years ago. I am sometimes amazed at how far we have come in such a short period of time. If you are working on natural projects in these applications and want to discuss some potential strategies, please contact me directly or you can request a consultation.

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