Red Martini

All about red

What is red?

Red is the color of blood and fire. It’s found everywhere in nature from the red sky at sunset, to red apples and reddish autumn leaves. We associate it with different meanings from love, passion, desire, romance, strength, leadership, courage to aggressivity, rage, anger, danger, stress, and determination. It can focus attention and get people to make quick decisions.


Red Salami
An important color for food & beverages

The primary natural sources are anthocyanins, carmine and red beet. According Chr. Hansen’s natural colors market analysis, red accounts for as much as 22% of color volume globally. From brilliant yellow-tinged scarlet and vermillion to bluish-red, and in shades from pale red to dark burgundy, these shades are essential in food products like cakes, confectionary, dairy and beverage.  Despite multiple sources available, bright natural red colors are challenging to find. The primary natural sources are anthocyanins, carmine and red beet.


Anthocyanins are natural pigments found widely in nature from edible fruits and vegetables such as grapes, elderberry, blackcurrant, black carrot, and red cabbage. They are water-soluble and provide a variety of colors from pink to red and even blue. Anthocyanins started to be commercially produced more than 30 years ago. 

The main food applications for anthocyanins are beverages, fruit preps, confectionery, and ice cream. Anthocyanins express themselves in slightly different reddish-purple shades, and all of them become bluer as the pH is lowered.  Depending on the production process anthocyanins can be labeled as a color additive (i.e., “anthocyanins” or “E163”) or simply labeled as an ingredient (i.e., “black carrot concentrate”) when crafted with gentle, traditional production  methods without solvents, such as our FRUITMAX® range.

Black carrot in Ice Cream, Beverage and Confectionery 

HANSEN SWEET POTATO™ - a unique anthocyanin

A unique variety of sweet potato, the HANSEN SWEET POTATO™ is an anthocyanin that can provide that bright fire-engine red many manufacturers are looking for. Not only does it express itself with less blue in high pH applications, but it also is more resistant to turning blue at lower pH applications. It can be labeled as “sweet potato concentrate,” and is vegetarian. Below are images using HANSEN SWEET POTATO™ itself or blends with black carrot or safflower. 

hansen sweet potato



Carmine is extracted from the dried female insect Dactylopius coccus costa, commonly known as cochineal, a parasite of a specific cactus. Today the primary production of cochineal is in Peru, but also countries like Chile, Bolivia, and the Canary Islands have productions areas.

The carminic acid is the active pigment extracted from cochineal. The color shade is pH dependent, orange in acid solutions and violet in alkaline. The ability of carminic acid to complex with metals (aluminum) is used in the manufacture of the red pigment known as carmine. 

Carmine shades range from light red to purple and the leading applications are meat, confectionery, beverage, ice cream, and dairy. Carmine is very stable to heat and light and is resistant to oxidation. The significant technical limitation related to this pigment is in matrixes with low pH, where precipitation may occur below pH 3.5. Also, as consumer requirements for vegetarian products grow, the use of Carmine becomes restricted (as a color additive; E120). 

Carmine in Confectionery, Snacks, and Juice

Betanin is obtained from the beetroot vegetable Beta vulgaris, which has been cultivated in all temperate climates for centuries. The pigment present in beetroot is water-soluble. Betanin is a very intense color, and dosage levels are usually low. However, the pigment is susceptible to heat degradation and oxidation, which limits its use as a food color. This limitation can be overcome by adding the color after heat treatment. The stability is highest at pH 4.5, and red beet color is not recommended for alkaline applications nor where heat, light, and oxygen stabilities are in demand. 
Red beet is recommended for ice cream, dairy products, fruit preps, jams and jellies, where it provides a beautiful strawberry color. It is an excellent color for sugar confectionery products such as chewy candy and cream paste, which are not subjected to massive heat treatment. And it’s an excellent alternative to carmine in some applications, but its poor heat stability and low light stability must be taken into consideration. 
Red beet, like anthocyanins, is available as a color additive (E162) and color ingredients when crafted with gentle, traditional production methods without solvents.

Snacks, Ice Cream and Biscuits colored with Red beet

Red Jelly Beans
Finding the right red for you

Red is an essential color in food & beverage, and manufacturers have long struggled to find a stable bright red using colors from natural sources. As consumers move towards minimally processed and vegan food choices, the color options become even more limited. Red beet is not heat stable and carmine is not suitable for vegetarians. Anthocyanins tend to turn blue, and the one anthocyanin that is most stable against color shift – red radish – often delivers an off-flavor.

Chr. Hansen developed our new FRUITMAX® Red products to address precisely the challenges of red color from natural sources. Based on an optimal blend of sweet potato and black carrot, these colors are suitable for confectionery, water ice, bakery and bakery decorations, fruit preparation, and fermented milk products.


  • Attractive bright red or light red shade dependent on the food matrix

  • Excellent alternative to synthetic red colors, carmine, red radish, and red beet

  • Good heat and light stability

  • Resistant to oxidation

  • No off flavor

  • Very stable at low pH and less pH sensitive than another red anthocyanin-based color

  • Cost efficient

  • Minimally processed and meet EU requirements for Coloring Foodstuffs

Coloring foods are the fastest growing color type in the food and beverage industry in response to consumer demands for natural ingredients and clean labels. Contact us today to discover more.