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Crossbreeding plants is the key to producing sustainable, high-quality, natural food color

The global demand for natural colors is estimated to grow at an annual rate of 5-8% towards 2030. As the demand for nutritional and sustainable food options increases, so does the awareness of product ingredients. Denmark has earned a reputation as one of the absolute leaders for innovative ingredients, and natural colors are no exception. 

Selling products in over 120 markets, the Danish company Oterra is currently the world’s largest natural food color supplier, with an extensive product portfolio. In response to increasing demand, Oterra has improved every step in the value chain, from plant to final color product.  

Addressing the entire value chain

A crucial step in Oterra’s value chain starts with plant breeding. Through targeted breeding, new plant varieties with special desired properties are developed. By breeding parent plants and carefully selecting offspring with genetically higher concentrations of pigments, Oterra is increasing productivity. 

One such example is the black carrot containing anthocyanin pigment. Oterra more than doubled the pigment in black carrots, thereby optimizing farm costs and resource usage. This enables nature to reach its maximal-potential in producing natural colors and allows the black-carrot pigment to compete with synthetic colors. 

Oterra more than doubled the pigment in black carrots, halving costs and resource usage

Furthermore, Oterra has implemented a production method called coloring foodstuff where a juice concentrate is made instead of extracting and purifying the pigment directly out of the plant. This method retains the nutritional value of the raw material, providing additional benefits to the consumer. 

Tailoring sustainable and healthy natural colors

Oterra’s comprehensive approach to plant breeding has significant benefits. Their natural food colors enhance the visual appeal of food products and offer nutritional value to the final products. 

The higher concentration of pigment also increases sustainability. Agriculture area, transportation and factory capacity are being optimized as less raw material is needed for the same pigment output. 

By creating tailored natural colorants, Oterra not only meets the rising demand of natural food colors from consumers and the industry, but simultaneously supports sustainability and health in the agriculture and food sectors.