How Plant-Ex manufacture stable natural colours for different food & beverage applications

How Plant-Ex manufactures stable natural colours for different food & beverage applications

Natural Colours are a division of Plant-Ex’s food ingredients portfolio and due to the colours being made from natural products, they can sometimes be affected by other natural processes. This includes UV exposure, heat, pH, and other chemicals. As a result, Plant-Ex has combined innovation with science to create light-stable, heat-stable and acid-stable versions of colours to ensure the colours are suitable for application in different end products.


Curcumin is an orange colour that has poor light stability, particularly when dissolved in polysorbates. Therefore, it is generally not considered suitable for use in food and beverages with transparent packaging where the product is exposed to UV. This can be an issue for retailers as clear packaging is often used to highlight the vibrant colour of the product, such as bakery and confectionery products.

To combat this, Plant-Ex has developed a light stabilised Curcumin extract which is suitable for use in products exposed to light. Curcumin LS is produced through fine milling of the pigment into a water-soluble medium, rather than dissolving the pigment in Polysorbates as is traditionally done. The difference in light stability between Curcumin and Curcumin Light Stable can be seen in the pictures below.

Left Curcumin
Right Curcumin LS
After 0 hours
Left Curcumin
Right Curcumin LS
After 72 hours

Copper Chlorophyllin

Copper Chlorophyllin is a natural green colour derived from a standardised and purified extract of grass or edible plant. Cu Chlorophyllin has poor acid stability which can result in the product becoming grainy when in an acidic pH application. For example, a carbonated beverage is likely to have an acidic pH which can make Copper Chlorophyllin a potentially problematic colour to use in its application. Plant-Ex has created an acid-stable version of Copper Chlorophyllin to overcome this issue and improve its pH stability in acidic conditions. The image below highlights the difference between Copper Chlorophyllin in a neutral pH and Copper Chlorophyllin in an acidic pH without being rendered acid-stable.


Spirulina is a natural blue shade derived from a blue-green type of algae. With very few existing natural blue shades, Spirulina is a widely used option. Spirulina, however, has poor pH and heat stability which can affect its suitability for certain applications. Bright blue is a popular colour for confectionery products which is why Plant-Ex has created a water-soluble liquid Spirulina suitable for use in confectionery. The results can be seen in the image below which demonstrates the bright blue shade in a gummy sweet

Red Beet

Heat Stable Red Beet is exactly that. A Red Beet has been developed for use in baked goods to remain a vibrant red after enduring a heat process. This clean label colour is the perfect solution for producing a bright and stable red shade in a bakery application and is an alternative to using Carmine. Whilst Carmine is an excellent choice for producing a heat-stable red/pink shade, Red Beet HS is a great clean-label alternative.

Natural ingredients can behave differently when exposed to varying conditions. Plant-Ex is therefore constantly looking for ways to improve the stability of natural colours in order to provide the highest quality products for customers. To find out more information about our natural colours, email today!

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