New sweet potato developed as natural red colourant

New sweet potato developed as natural red colourant
Courtesy of Chr. Hansen Natural Colours

Bioscience business Chr. Hansen has commercialised a new sweet potato variety which provides a natural alternative to carmine and synthetic reds.

The new variety – the Hansen sweet potato Ipomoea batatas – is the result of a ten-year breeding programme.

The process utilised traditional breeding methods in order to create the long-sought vibrant, natural red alterative to carmine.

The company’s plant scientists spent years cultivating and selecting generation after generation of seedings.

It also partnered with growers in order to learn the best ways to plan, nurture and harvest the sweet potato.

“For the first time, we’ve created a whole new variety of vegetable to create the natural colour our customers are asking for,” says Jakob Dalmose Rasmussen, Vice President, Commercial Development at Chr. Hansen Natural Colours.

“We call it the Hansen sweet potato. Over 10 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.”

The Hansen sweet potato is the basis for Chr. Hansen’s recently launched FruitMax line of bright-red solutions that solve some of the biggest challenges of previously available natural red colours.

“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,” said Mr Rasmussen.

“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.”