Natural food colourings have to fall into the "sweet spot" of consumer trends concerning health, traceability and cleaner labels, the boss of one of the world's leading colouring food producers has claimed.
Headquartered in the Dutch town of Meirlo, the family-owned company GNT was founded in 1978 and has customers in 75 countries. In an exclusive interview with Food Manufacture, GNT managing director Frederik Hoeck suggested that his company's story was "a natural story, a plant-based story", and a story that consumers would "love".
Hoeck: "In a nutshell, it's about consumers wanting to know increasingly what they eat, where it comes from, and whether it is good for them, personally, and also, it is good for others. And I would say GNT is in the sweet spot of these trends."
Its vertically-integrated approach means around four-fifths of the vegetables, fruits and edible plants used to make the Exberry range are cultivated in an area close to the company's production plants. Crops grown include orange and black carrots, pumpkins and radishes.
After harvesting, crops travel to GNT's facility in Heinsberg, Germany, where they are processed into semi-finished ingredients using methods that include pressing, chopping, filtering and concentrating. Chemical solvents are never used.
'We have the widest portfolio of colouring foods in the market, with the deepest vertical integration," Hoeck said.
Victim of its success
Hoeck conceded, however, that GNT's success at having created so many vivid colours from natural shades meant it sometimes had to tone down the colours. In June, it unveiled a range of blue powders, derived from the algae spirulina, that offered a "significantly higher" colour intensity.
"We have such vibrant colours that our customers and consumers would think they are artificial," Hoeck explained. 'We sometimes have to tone them down a little bit. But seeing is believing - it's important for us that our customers visit us and see our operations, and we would even invite consumers to see our operations."