Tired of price volatility, GNT can help you replace carmine

It is surprising, given the significant list of negative attributes, that carmine (sometimes referred to as cochineal) is still used today in applications such as beverages, ice-cream, dairy and confectionery to name a few. One particular negative aspect is the price itself: carmine is notorious for its price volatility and once again higher prices start to take effect in the market.




Times are changing, and so are consumers!

Consumers are demanding natural and understandable products with clear labelling. The chemical processing of carmine does not fit with their expectations. Additionally, an increasing group of consumers ask for vegetarian or vegan solutions where carmine is simply not an option. In addition to the changes in consumer demands and perception, the industry also faces challenges not the least being carmine price volatility with cost-in-use creeping up.

Thankfully there is an alternative - EXBERRY® Colouring Foods

GNT have clear label, truly natural alternatives to hand: EXBERRY® Colouring Foods can replace carmine and are ideal for numerous applications. Whether replacing carmine in soft drinks, yoghurts, candied cherries or vibrantly pink sweets – with our proprietary technology, we can deliver solutions that have the exact colour shade and intensity for the application in question.

So, what are EXBERRY® Colouring Foods?

EXBERRY® Colouring Foods are concentrates made from fruit, vegetables and edible plants. In contrast to supposedly natural additive colourants, such as carmine, their production involves only processing with water and gentle physical processes like pressing, chopping and filtering. The final result is a concentrate which as a food ingredient delivers vibrant colours to almost every application. The product can be eaten at every step of the production process: after all, it starts as a food and ends as a food!

Colouring Foods can be labelled in a way that is understandable for consumers, for example “Colouring Foods (concentrates of blackcurrant, carrot)”. They are suitable for vegetarians and vegans and fulfil both halal and kosher requirements.

Consumer demand for real naturalness

In a global consumer research study, commissioned by GNT and undertaken by market research institute TNS, it was found that 68 percent of consumers place great value on buying healthy and natural food and drinks. The way food and beverages are coloured is crucial for the perception of naturalness. When asked about the meaning of “natural food”, the top answer worldwide, given by nearly 80 percent, is the lack of artificial colours. Moreover, consumers are willing to invest time and effort to get what they search for. When going to the supermarket, two thirds of consumers take a critical look at the label of food and beverages and scan them for ingredients they want to avoid. At the top of their black list are colourants (with E numbers) as well as preservatives and artificial sweeteners. About 60 percent of consumers worldwide particularly avoid these when choosing food and drink.

Carmine from a consumers perspective

Carmine is made from the inedible cochineal insect, which following extraction of the dye undergoes further chemical processing, for example with aluminium oxide. It is therefore hardly surprising that when faced with this reality, consumers are disturbed as it does not fit with their expectations for natural food. This is evident in three ways:

Inedible raw material

Consumers have a clear conception of what “natural colours” are: almost every second person expects them to exclusively originate from edible fruit and vegetables. In the case of carmine, the origin being an inedible insect really causes consumers to seek alternatives.


Processed with chemicals

The use of chemicals to manufacture non-synthetic colourants doesn’t comply with consumers’ understanding of natural. For carmine, when confronted with the chemical processing and the fact that up to 40 percent of the final colourant consist of other additives or chemicals, consumers instantly agree to its unnatural character.

Non-natural colour

The inedible nature of the starting material and the chemical processing can only result in one thing in the mind of the consumer: carmine (E120) is not a natural colour and actually is artificial as it does not occur in nature and is man-made.

High-performance natural colour solutions

Colouring Foods meet consumer expectations towards naturalness to the fullest extent. At the same time, they show excellent technological performance in relation to the different stability requirements of the food industry and also offer acceptable and stable cost-in-use.

Colour stability

EXBERRY® Colouring Foods offer excellent stability, demonstrated in extensive heat and light tests.

This study (in below graph) illustrating a side-by-side comparison of carmine and a Colouring Foods solution in dairy shows a colour match where the colour difference in comparison to carmine is extremely small and imperceptible to the eye.


The list of application possibilities for EXBERRY® Colouring Foods is almost endless. Next to dairy, our solution can be used in beverages, confectionery, ice cream, food supplements and fruit preparations.

The concentrates provide a wide spectrum of shades from pastel to intense colours. Whether replacing carmine in soft drinks, candied cherries or vibrantly pink sweets – with our proprietary technology, we can deliver solutions that have the exact colour shade and intensity for the application in question.

Cost in Use

By controlling the complete vertical integration of our supply chain, we can ensure the best possible price stability and all-year-round availability of our products. We control all steps of the supply chain – from the selection of seeds to the cultivation and harvesting of the raw materials and all the way through to the finished products. Our competitive and stable prices and the year-round availability of EXBERRY® concentrates ensure long-term planning security.

Comprehensive support from GNT’s application experts

From our years of experience dedicated to Colouring Foods and the replacement of additive colours, we know that technical and application support is vital to achieve good results. Our team of specialists is on hand at every step to offer support throughout the entire product development process. In particular, we can offer advice on the most suitable Colouring Food, processing and application considerations, verification of shelf life and stability as well as in any area where food and drink legislation has to be addressed.

Contact us

We’re here to help you. Our application experts are on hand with technical solutions and advice to support you with any challenges that you might face when replacing carmine.