Exberry Explains Plant-based Colorings: “Artificial Additives Just Won’t Be Acceptable Anymore”

Many companies decide to develop original products by creating new items or by mixing the existing ones sometimes in surprising ways. Other times, just a little bit of color is needed. Not any kind of color, but a vibrant and plant-based one. To find more about plant-based colorings, a market projected to surpass USD2bn by 2024 (Global Market Insights), we spoke with a representative from one of the biggest producers – Maartje Hendrickx, market development manager, GNT Group.

Under the slogan “Coloring food with food”, GNT’s brand EXBERRY® produces coloring from fruits, vegetables, and edible plants using a physical manufacturing process processed with water.

How does the color influence the consumers’ attraction for food and especially for bakery/ confectionery products?

Maartje Hendrickx: Color can be a powerful way to tap into that and we’re definitely seeing examples of it in the bakery sector. So for example, vivid colors can accompany “exotic” flavors in bakery products to increase appeal to adventurous consumers.

Color is also strongly associated with health, so it’s important that baked goods look healthy to appeal to health-conscious consumers. In addition to this, surveys show that consumers favor colorful foods that help them tell a story on social media and look good in their feeds. The plant-based colors you get from coloring foods work particularly well on social media.

We have learned that the color of food can influence the taste expected by the consumer. How can the color influence the consumer’s choice when it comes to baked goods?

This year, we’re seeing consumers gravitating towards colors associated with brightness and optimism. Uplifting ‘sunshine shades’ of yellow and orange are already appearing across the bakery sector with sweet potato among the flavors emerging in cakes and sweet pastries.

How can considerations such as cost, regulations and the consumers’ trends influence the use of colorings? What about ethnic requirements?

MH: Countries around the world are increasingly restricting artificial additives. For example, in the EU, food and drink products containing tartrazine (E102) must carry the warning “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.” This was one of the famous ‘Southampton Six’ colors identified as having a serious effect on children’s well-being. Public awareness of the health issues with artificial colors is a key reason to switch to coloring foods.

Meanwhile, it’s increasingly important for manufacturers to be able to offer products that are halal and kosher, which is why the whole of our EXBERRY® range of Coloring Foods is certified to meet these requirements.

How can the colors be better explained to the final consumer?

MH: What consumers want is a really straightforward process that is easy to understand. Busy health-seekers have no time to read through ingredients lists so they need to see at a glance what the product is all about.

As EXBERRY® colors are based on recognizable ingredients, they can be described on the label in an easily understandable way. For example, the ingredient listing could be something like “Coloring Food (concentrate from carrot, pumpkin, hibiscus etc…)”

That’s straightforward and easy to understand and communicates that the color is from a completely plant-based edible source.


How do you estimate the evolution of the colorings market over the next years?

MH: To understand how the colorings market is going to change, you have to understand the needs of Generation Z. As well as being “digital natives”, they’re often expected to be more informed and politically aware than previous generations, and likely to use their spending power to influence companies to make a positive social impact.

Their growing power as a consumer group will increase the importance of the transparency, sustainability, clean label, and plant-based trends. Artificial additives just won’t be acceptable anymore. And of course nutritious, foods that appeal to increasingly health-conscious consumers are going to need the safest colors to increase consumer appeal.

GNT’s Coloring Foods can help manufacturers meet all these trends and developments, and we’ve got the colors to make any new developments in the market look amazing. 

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