Introducing the Hansen sweet potato™ – the secret behind the market’s best carmine alternative

Introducing the Hansen sweet potato™ – the secret behind the market’s best carmine alternative
Chr. Hansen launches a plant-based, brilliant red that gives customers a natural alternative to carmine and synthetic colors.
Press Release | Feb 19. 2019 07:00 GMT

Chr. Hansen’s decade-long breeding program results in a new and unique sweet potato that is the raw material creating vibrant alternatives to carmine and synthetic reds

What happens when colors from natural sources are not enough to satisfy discerning consumers? You develop a new source.

Chr. Hansen has commercialized a new vegetable variety – the Hansen sweet potato™ Ipomoea batatas – using traditional breeding methods to create the long-sought after vibrant, natural red alternative to carmine.

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

“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 colors,” adds Dalmose Rasmussen.


It all starts with the right raw material
Chr. Hansen has a team of experienced experts to develop new and refined raw materials using selective breeding. To do it they collaborate with colleagues, growers and scientists around the world.

“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 color and high per-plant pigment load,” explains Luc Ganivet, vice president, Innovation and Application at Chr. Hansen Natural Colors.

A bright red carmine alternative
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 colors.

“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 color 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,” concludes Dalmose Rasmussen.

Chr. Hansen’s new FruitMax™ Orange and recently launched FruitMax® reds are based on Hansen sweet potato™ blends, are minimally processed and meet the EU requirements for Coloring Foodstuffs.


Chr. Hansen is a global, differentiated bioscience company that develops natural ingredient solutions for the food, nutritional, pharmaceutical and agricultural industries. At Chr. Hansen we are uniquely positioned to drive positive change through microbial solutions. We have worked for over 145 years to enable sustainable agriculture, cleaner labels and healthier living for more people around the world. Our microbial and fermentation technology platforms, including our broad and relevant collection of around 40,000 microbial strains, have game-changing potential. Matching customer needs and global trends we continue to unlock the power of good bacteria to respond to global challenges such as food waste, global health and the overuse of antibiotics and pesticides. As the world’s most sustainable biotech company, we touch the lives of more than 1 billion people every day. Driven by our legacy of innovation and curiosity to pioneer science, our purpose – To grow a better world. Naturally. – is at the heart of everything we do.

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