Natural Colours and Flavours
Colourings and flavourings are extensively used in the dairy industry for cheese, milkshakes, yoghurts and of course ice-cream. Unfortunately for dairy manufacturers use of these ingredients can be arduous, particularly with yoghurt where flavourings can clash with its acidic pH and the accompanying lactone, bitter notes – chocolate being a prime example. In terms of colourings, large volumes are often needed to counteract the strong white background colour and there can also be complications with colours fading and changing pH levels and temperatures during the pasteurisation process.
Natural colourings can pose their own problems as they often do not give the same intensity as synthetic ingredients and are also more expensive to process and use than lab made ones. Despite this, the unrelenting consumer trend for healthy eating prevails and is forcing food manufacturers to embrace natural sources of ingredients.
Natural fruit flavourings are of course popular but exotic fruits in particular are dominating this area in yoghurts as well as ice creams. There is also a noticeable trend for indulgent, hybrid flavours such as apple pie and strawberry cheesecakes.
Natural colourings, which have been gaining traction as synthetic alternatives, include beetroot, yellow turmeric and paprika as well as annatto, the staple colouring in butter, and beta-carotene, which is frequently used in cheese. Beta-carotene has been hailed as an alternative to synthetic colourings as it is converted to vitamin A in the body and actively good for health. This trend for natural colourings has become particularly notable in the ice cream industry where manufacturers of mint chocolate ice cream are toning down the artificial green colouring of the product to appeal to customers.
Although for simple flavours such as strawberry, consumers show a preference for natural flavourings and colourings, for the complex hybridized flavours consumers are more willing to accept synthetic flavourings. Overall the value of taste prevails.