How to achieve (genuinely) clean labels in savoury foods

By Victor Foo, General Manager, GNT Singapore
Tuesday, 01 October, 2019

Demand for clean label products continues to strengthen. Research shows that nearly two thirds of consumers (62%) look to buy products with no artificial additives listed on the label.1 As a result, it has never been more important for manufacturers of savoury foods to move away from using synthetic colours. Doing so is not always straightforward.

In recent years, food companies have removed additives considered to be artificial and replaced them with so-called ‘natural’ ingredients. However, in reality, many of these are extracted and produced using chemicals.

Thankfully, it is not a binary choice between artificial and so-called ‘natural’ additives. A third option is to use plant-based ingredients, such as Coloring Foods, which are obtained from fruits, vegetables and edible plants using gentle, physical processes such as pressing, chopping, filtering and concentrating. These ingredients are considered foods in their own right – to the extent that they can be consumed safely at any point during the production process.

Coloring Foods are very label-friendly and can be listed on-pack simply as foods. For example: ‘Coloring Food (concentrate of black carrot, radish)’ or ‘Concentrate (black carrot, radish)’.

Perfect partner for plant-based savoury products

Thanks to their origin, Coloring Foods tap into the growing popularity of plant-based foods. This makes them the perfect solution in the meat alternatives category.

Vegan and vegetarian meat analogues are thriving. In the US, for example, figures issued by the Plant Based Foods Association show that year-on-year sales of plant-based meat alternatives rose by 24% in 2018.2 According to Innova Market Insights, meanwhile, meat alternatives accounted for 14% of global ‘meat-product’ launches in the first nine months of 2018, compared with 6% in 2013.3

Using Coloring Foods ensures meat analogue products will look great in-store and appetising on the plate. They are perfect clean-label alternatives to the additive colorants widely used in the meat industry – especially carmine, which is not from a vegetarian source. Coloring Foods based on safflower, turmeric, carrot, paprika, beetroot or radish will impart a meaty colour to applications that consumers will find appealing.

Alternatives to colours in meat products

In the meat products, too, Coloring Foods are an excellent choice. The addition of colour can ensure meat retains its visual appeal. But many of the colours used are disagreeable to consumers. As well as carmine, meat products often includes haemoglobin, paprika oleoresin and various carotenoids to colour the product. Coloring Foods, being completely plant-based and processed with water, are the ideal alternative because they will deliver excellent appearance but won’t compromise clean-labelling strategies.

EXBERRY® Coloring Foods

The leading Coloring Foods range is EXBERRY by GNT Group. With more than 400 shades available, EXBERRY fruit and vegetable concentrates impart almost any colour shade to savoury foods and are ideally suited for industrial use in applications where optimum stability is essential.

EXBERRY is claimed to be the only range of Coloring Foods produced in a fully vertically integrated value chain. All steps are meticulously monitored, from the selection of seeds to the germination, cultivation and production of the final concentrates. The raw materials are harvested only when the colour has developed to its optimum extent. Processing then takes place within hours to prevent colour deterioration.

GNT recently launched a new and improved range of EXBERRY liquid and powdered red Coloring Foods that are free of added sugar and perfect for savoury applications. They offer higher colour intensities and contain just two raw materials, which will help manufacturers achieve shorter, cleaner ingredient lists.

Available globally, the new reds deliver colours that are 50% more intense, which means they can be used in lower dosages to achieve the same effect, resulting in reduced cost-in-use. All are derived from fruits and vegetables grown by GNT’s select group of dedicated farmers.

The new EXBERRY reds range includes shades such as “Vivid Red”, “Purple Plum”, “Veggie Red” and “Brilliant Pink”, made from fruits and vegetables including, among others, carrots, radish and sweet potatoes. All are suitable for vegetarians and vegans, Kosher parve approved and Halal compliant.

Experiment to succeed

Using plant-based Coloring Foods in savoury applications can be just as straightforward as using artificial colorants, especially if your Coloring Foods supplier has a pilot plant where you can experiment with different solutions. GNT’s production facility in Aachen, Germany, has an application centre dedicated to helping manufacturers perfect their formulations and manufacturing processes using EXBERRY Coloring Foods.

For more information about the definition of Coloring Foods and the differences between artificial colours, natural colours and Coloring Foods, please click here.

Image caption: EXBERRY Coloring Foods tap into the growing popularity of plant-based savoury foods and snacks.

  1. What Natural Really Means to Consumers (2017), GNT Group/TNS
  2. Nielsen, ‘U.S. Retail Sales Data for Plant-Based Foods’,
  3. Green, Elizabeth ‘New meat categories? Meatless targets “hybrid” meat protein platforms’, Food Ingredients First, 31 October 2018
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