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Why add colour?

Colour impacts the way we experience food.

From an early age we make associations between the colour of food and its flavour. As adults we make on-the-shelf decisions about how we expect food to taste based on visual appearance.

Studies show colour also affects how they actually do taste via a mechanism called synaesthesia, so it’s essential for food products to have a stable colour in order to deliver the best possible experience to the consumer.


As a manufacturer and supplier of natural colours for over 40 years, Kanegrade has a wide portfolio of products for food and beverage manufacturers, which have been developed to suit every application.

You may be familiar with the source material and colour strength you need, but if not simply start by telling us the colour you want your product to be, and we’ll be happy to start suggesting products.











If needed, we’ll ask for some more specific information about your application, and we can arrange for samples to be sent to you.

Send us your enquiry today and we’ll be pleased to start a conversation.

Custom development

You may have a target shade in mind for your final product, which can’t be described as a single shade and one of our standard products doesn’t quite achieve what you need.

It is possible for us to create custom blends of natural colours, such as Annatto/Turmeric or Carmine/Beta-Carotene to get the ideal shade for your application.

Let us know and we’ll be happy to work with you to get the right product.


There are many technical aspects to consider when using natural food colours. We are happy to guide you through all of this, but here is a rundown of some of the details.

Source Materials / Principle Pigments – We work with colours derived from many source materials, and you may also have heard of some of the colouring pigments in this table:

Colour Example Source Materials Principal pigments
Red / Pink / Purple Black Carrot / Red Cabbage / Grapeskin / Elderberry
Cochineal / Carmine
Carminic Acid
Carotenoids (Lycopene)
Orange Annatto
Carotenoids (Bixin / Norbixin)
Carotenoids (Beta-Carotene, Apocarotenal)
Carotenoids (Capsanthin and Capsorubin)
Yellow Carrot
Carotenoids (Beta-Carotene)
Xanthophylls (Zeaxanthin)
Green Fescue Grass, Alfalfa Grass Chlorophyll / Chlorophyllin
Black Vegetable Carbon Black
Brown Burnt Sugar
Blue Spirulina Phycocyanin
White Titanium Dioxide, Calcium Carbonate
*This is not a complete list. Other source materials / pigments are constantly being assessed and added.

  • Shade: Some of the colouring pigments can have variation, for example Beta-Carotene can be either a red, orange or yellow shade.
  • Strength / Percentage: Natural colours are often described by the percentage of the colouring pigment contained within, with a higher strength requiring a lower dose rate. It may also be expressed as EV or CV (Colour Value).
  • Form: For most colour products, there is a choice of liquid or powder. The native pigment may be oil / water soluble itself. If for example it is oil-soluble and needs to be used in a water-soluble application, it can be turned into an emulsion using permitted emulsifiers. It may be a native solid which needs to be made into a suspension, which is a homogenous mixture of solids in a liquid phase.
  • Carrier choice: Carriers are chosen which are used to ensure they are stable in your application, which may be oil-soluble or water-soluble.
  • Stability: Both during the process and on-the-shelf stability must be considered. Each colouring pigment has different levels of heat, light and pH stability so this factor must be considered when selecting a source material. If a pigment is prone to fading by light, changes to packaging may be suggested, such as removal of transparent windows.
  • Other ingredients: Additional additives may be needed to maintain colour stability, for example Vitamin E may be added to oil-soluble colours to prevent oxidisation.

Since there are so many factors involved in selecting the right colour product it is essential you choose a supplier with knowledge of all the technical aspects.

Enquire with us today. We look forward to discussing your next project.


Natural colours are covered by EU/UK Additives legislation 1333/2008 and further directives such as Regulation (EU) No 231/2012 which sets out purity criteria to ensure safe use of the colour product.

If the natural colour follows the purity criteria then they can be granted the use of the corresponding E-Number. This goes for the colouring component on its own, and further carriers and additives are permitted in the colour product. If the colour can use an E-number this will be stated in the product specification provided by Kanegrade.

It is a common misconception that E-numbers are bad and unfortunately natural colours have E-numbers in a similar way that artificial colours have E-numbers, within the range of E100 to E199. However a valid E-number should be seen as a verification that a product falls within safe purity criteria and has been rigorously tested and deemed safe by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

The legislation for colour products is constantly evolving, and our regulatory team monitors changes and alerts our customers to any concerns.

Get in touch today if you’d like to discuss any regulatory questions regarding the use of colours.


You may wonder how to label natural colours on the back-of-pack.

Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 lays down the law with regard to labelling and Annex VII Part C states that the classification must be stated, followed by a more specific reference to either the colour and or its E-number.

For example

  • Colour (Anthocyanins), or Colour (E163)
  • Colour (Curcumin) or Colour (E100)

For more information on colours and E-numbers visit EFSA here:

There are some ingredients which have secondary colouring properties and are supplied either as a flavour or simply as an ingredient. In those cases they follow the labelling for those respective items from the same legislation.

If you have questions about labelling colour products, contact us today.


With any flavouring sample or order, we provide all the documentation you require to use the flavour safely. We provide as standard:

  • Product specification
  • Safety Data Sheet (SDS)
  • Allergen Information
  • Nutritional Information
  • *And with orders a Certificate of Analysis.

Religious certifications are also available if needed for your application.

If you require additional documentation or product information, please do get in touch.


If you’re ready to request information or a product sample from us, our colour experts look forward to hearing about your project and discussing it with you.

You can phone us, schedule a phone or video call or send us an email.

Contact: Ricky Speight
Technical Sales (Natural Colours)