Colouring foods in India: Industry players optimistic amid clean label trend and rules changes

By Guan Yu Lim

- Last updated on GMT

India's FSSAI now recognises Colouring Foods as a separate category from synthetic and natural colours ©Getty Images
India's FSSAI now recognises Colouring Foods as a separate category from synthetic and natural colours ©Getty Images

Related tags Colours India Clean label Chr hansen GNT

Suppliers offering colouring foods are optimistic of growth in India, in part due to enhanced regulations, but also the broader consumer move towards clean label preferences.

The Indian regulator FSSAI recently introduced that Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Tenth Amendment Regulations (2020), which recognises Colouring Foods as a separate category from synthetic and natural colours, the latter which are considered additives.

The new standard now considers Colouring Foods as a food ingredient, for the primary function of colouring.

Colouring Foods must be made from edible fruits, vegetables, spices or herbs, using water extraction that retain the original characteristics of the source material’s colour, taste and odour.

Clean label and plant-based

The new guidelines are a sign of recognition by the local authority that consumer preferences are evolving​,” said Chr. Hansen Holding’s senior business manager Obadah Barmawi (MEISC).

Another industry player, GNT said this stemmed from growing awareness of clean label food products alongside the plant-based trend in India.

Research from Food Industry Asia’s ‘Healthier Product Reformulation in India: Detailed Consumer Findings’ (2019) found that 78% of Indian consumers consider it very or extremely important that they recognised all ingredients when choosing food and groceries.

Santhosh Thankappan, sales director at GNT Middle East, said Colouring Foods are typically made from well-known fruit and vegetables and can be described on the label in a way that was simple for shoppers to understand, such as ‘Concentrate of radish and carrot’.

With high acceptance levels for plant-based ingredients, they provide instant reassurance and ensure widespread consumer appeal​,” he added.

Chr Hansen’s Barmawi welcomed the new regulatory changes, adding: “The new guidelines have helped to define more clearly than before, the types of raw materials sources that are allowed for the production of coloring foods​.”

Chr Hansen’s colouring foods range is marketed under the Fruitmax brand.

We see that this new change will benefit our customers who are looking at aligning their product formulations across the regions, as well as those whose brand mandates are towards naturality and clean labelling​.”

The firm has been present in India for more than a decade, and sees its natural colours business continue to grow year-on-year.

According to Barmawi, “Our Fruitmax range of Colouring Foods represents a sizeable part of our total business in India​.”

Most of Chr Hansen Fruitmax customers in India are in confectionery and bakery sectors.

For GNT, it is now working with distributor Anshul Life Sciences to expand the reach of its EXBERRY Colouring Foods to food and beverage manufacturers across India.

Thankappan said: “We expect to see the greatest demand in product categories including beverages, confectionery and ice cream, with particular interest in the vibrant, Instagrammable shades that modern Indian consumers want​.”

According to Paul Collins, director of international sales & marketing at GNT: “We’ve worked for many years to achieve the publication of a standard for Colouring Foods in India, so we are delighted the FSSAI has issued this notification..​.”

Food and beverage businesses in India will have until July 2021 to comply with the new standards.

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