Meet the exhibitors: GNT Group

Fi CONNECT Exhibitor showcase interview

Maartje Hendrickx, Market Development Manager at GNT Group

What ingredients are you presenting at this year’s FI CONNECT?

At GNT, we make EXBERRY® Coloring Foods, based on the straightforward principle of colouring food with food. They are made from vegetables, fruits and edible plants using physical processing methods such as chopping and boiling, and we do not use any chemical solvents to extract the colours from the raw materials.

At Fi Europe CONNECT this year, we will be showcasing how our Coloring Foods can be used to help a vast range of food and drink products reach their full potential.

For example, we’re hosting a presentation on 23rd November focusing on how Coloring Foods can be used in plant-based fish. Coloring Foods can provide an ideal colouring solution for plant-based products because “plant-based” has always been in our DNA, having produced colours from fruit and vegetables since the company was founded in 1978.

Nonetheless, there can be formulation challenges when using Coloring Foods. Factors including pH, heat and light can affect performance, so it’s essential to understand the aspects that will affect different colours in different applications.

We have extensive experience working with plant-based products, allowing our experts to develop innovative solutions to the various challenges that can arise. We started working with plant-based meat over 10 years ago, slowly moved into dairy alternatives, and in last two to three years, we started developing solutions for plant-based fish, such as tuna and sushi. We can now help create products such as a plant-based salmon that keeps its nice orange-pink colour after cooking.

We’ll also be highlighting our EXBERRY® Organics range at the event. As transparency, sustainability and responsible supply chains become more important for our customers as well as end-consumers, we are seeing an increase in demand for organic colours. The rise of social media means people are becoming increasingly curious and will sometimes investigate themselves what is in a product. It’s about communicating with consumers in an open and honest way.

When you make an organic product, you don’t want to say that all ingredients are organic and then have to explain that the orange colour is not. EXBERRY® can provide a solution. Our first organic products were produced more than a decade ago and each year we add more options to the portfolio. Today, we can supply almost all raw materials as organic variants.

We will also be promoting some of our new EXBERRY® products at Fi Europe CONNECT. Our range of colours already covers the whole rainbow, but we often introduce new innovations that make it even easier for manufacturers to use our Coloring Foods.

For example, we recently launched the EXBERRY® Shade Yellow – Cloudy powder. We already had a Shade Yellow – Cloudy liquid, but the powder is designed for use in bakery products as well as dry mixes including custard, brioches and biscuits.

We also expanded our range of micronized powders with the launch of the beetroot-based Shade Fiesta Pink. Micronized powders have a smaller particle size than our regular powders, which allows them to create a completely homogenous colour effect in challenging applications such as instant beverages, snack seasonings and chocolate for decoration.

Another innovation has been to develop new versions of our existing products with higher colour intensity, allowing manufacturers to use less of the colour.

What food and drink trends are you seeing right now, and how can GNT meet this trend?

Instagram has transformed the industry. Consumers want to share ‘Insta-worthy’ images of their food and drink, so appearance is more important than ever. That means manufacturers need to ensure their products look truly appetising and feature really vibrant colours.

Even so, consumers today expect ‘clean’ ingredients. While there can be a perception that plant-based and organic colours can be dull, that does not need to be the case. Coloring Foods can now deliver shades that are every bit as vivid as artificial colours and that opens up some really exciting possibilities. For example, plant-based blues and greens had a huge impact in 2020.

At Fi Europe CONNECT, we’ll be announcing our forecast for 2021’s top food and drink colour trend. GNT has become an authoritative voice in anticipating the top colour trends, with our Shades of Sunshine and Shades of Aqua predictions over the last two years proving highly accurate, so there’s a lot of interest in our new forecast.

Did GNT face any challenges during the global COVID-19 pandemic?

To make EXBERRY® Coloring Foods, we use around 25 to 30 raw materials such as carrot, red beet, radish, safflower, spirulina and berries including chokeberry, elderberry and blackcurrant. Relying on fruit, vegetables and plants does present challenges, but what really sets us apart from other colour companies is that we have our entire supply chain in-house. We grow our own carrots, pumpkins and other crops with our agronomists and dedicated farmers.

Our vertical supply chain has always given us high-quality raw materials and full traceability as well as price and stock stability. During the pandemic, it provided an even greater advantage because it meant we didn’t have to rely on other suppliers – everything was in our own hands.

We also maintain substantial stock of both raw materials and finished products to make sure we never have to let our customers down, which has provided an extra level of reassurance throughout the pandemic.

What is the benefit of using a colouring food rather than a food colour?

Shoppers today not only want to avoid chemical ingredients but want to understand exactly what they’re eating and drinking.

When using artificial colours and even so-called ‘natural’ colours within the EU, manufacturers need to include an E-number on the label. When using Coloring Foods, though, they can be listed in a way that is easy for the consumer to understand, such as “Coloring Food (concentrate of radish and carrot)”.

That is a huge advantage. Most people do not understand what beta-carotene or the E-number E160a are, but they of course understand what a carrot is. Manufacturers can even put a logo on the packaging to show that their product is “coloured with fruit and vegetables”, which can really help boost brand preference.

Coloring Foods are already quite well known in the EU and US, and now we are slowly seeing a shift towards ‘clean’ colours in Asian countries like Thailand, Indonesia and also China, where there is a growing focus on healthy ingredients.

Connect with GNT Group via our matchmaking tool

Colors from fruits & vegetables