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Chr. Hansen develops new sweet potato for use as food colourant
Chr. Hansen has commercialised a new vegetable variety – the Hansen sweet potato Ipomoea batatas – using traditional breeding methods to create a natural red alternative to carmine.
The product is the result of the Danish company’s decade-long breeding programme.
“For the first time, we’ve created a whole new variety of vegetable to create the natural colour our customers are asking for,” said Jakob Dalmose Rasmussen, vice president of commercial development at Chr. Hansen Natural Colors.
“We call it the Hansen sweet potato. Over ten years ago, we discovered a promising pigment in a root vegetable’s tuber, but the plant’s pigment content was on the low side. We took this plant and embarked on a process of selective breeding using traditional, non-GMO methods. The result is a plant-based, brilliant red that gives our customers a natural alternative to carmine and synthetic colours.”
Luc Ganivet, vice president of innovation and application at Chr. Hansen Natural Colors, said: “It all starts with the right raw material. Our plant scientists spent years cultivating and selecting generation after generation of seedlings. We partnered with growers to learn the best ways to plant, nurture and harvest the Hansen sweet potato. And we perfected methods of handling, transportation and extraction. The result is the Hansen sweet potato with its unique combination of high-yield, brilliant colour and high per-plant pigment load.”
The Hansen sweet potato is the basis for Chr. Hansen’s recently launched FruitMax line of bright red solutions, which can be used in confectionery, water ice, bakery and bakery decorations, fruit preparation and fermented milk products.
Dalmose Rasmussen added: “Strawberry red is a popular shade for food products – from cakes to confectionary to milkshakes. But until now it has been nearly impossible to make a fire-engine red colour with no risk of off-taste without using carmine.
“And as consumers move towards vegetarian and vegan food choices, the need for a carmine alternative has become more pressing. Our new FruitMax red juice concentrates are 100% plant-based and provide a new solution to our customers looking to respond to this consumer trend.”