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Reluctance Toward the Use of Synthetic Colors is Expected to Drive the Growth of the Phycocyanin Market

   April 19, 2023

In recent years, there has been a decrease in the use of synthetic color additives in food, beverage, pharmaceutical, and cosmetic products due to stringent regulations for synthetic color additives and rising consumer awareness about the health hazards of synthetic colors.

A synthetic color additive is any chemical dye, pigment, or substance that can impart color to food, drugs, cosmetics, or medical devices. Usually, color additives are considered important as they make products attractive and appealing; however, regulatory standards and labeling rules for synthetic/artificial colors limit the adoption of synthetic food colors.

Strict regulations established by federal organizations across various countries restrict the use of synthetic dyes in food & beverage products. In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the principal body regulating food additives. It regulates the use of artificial/synthetic food colors in food products and alcoholic beverages. These regulations have reduced the demand for synthetic food colorants. Also, the demand for synthetic food coloring is declining due to consumers’ increasing health consciousness. As a result, food manufacturers are focused on using natural alternatives to synthetic colors due to the harmful effects of synthetic dyes on human health.

In the U.S., the FDA lists new synthetic color additives or new uses for listed color additives that are safe for their intended uses in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), conducts certification programs for batches of color additives that are required to be certified before being sold, and monitors the use of synthetic colors in products, including product labeling. Synthetic color additives used in food, drugs, and cosmetics must comply with individual listing regulations issued by the FDA. The use of unlisted color additives, the improper use of listed color additives, or the use of color additives that do not conform to the purity and identity specifications of the listing regulations may cause a product to be deemed adulterated according to the provisions of the FD&C Act. Currently, the U.S. does not allow the addition of synthetic food colors in over 200 food products.

In Europe, all additives, including colors, must be authorized as per European legislation before being used in foods. Once authorized, food colors are included in the permitted food additives listed in Regulation EC 1333/2008, which also specifies their conditions of use.

In South America, Brazil has the most advanced legislation on functional foods and feeds enriched with food colors, mainly focusing on health claims. Among developing countries, India and China have recognized the need to control the use of synthetic food colors. Such disparities in regulations have adversely affected global trade. Product quality and environmental protection are other concerns that negatively impact the synthetic food colors market. Moreover, producers of food colors must comply with strict regulations related to regional and national health and safety for product approvals in developed countries. This ultimately affects the cost and, thereby, the demand for final products.

Furthermore, synthetic colors have high utilitarian value as they are used across various industries. These colors are manufactured chemically and used extensively in the food & beverage, pharmaceutical, and cosmetics industries. However, in research studies conducted by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) and other research organizations, it has been observed that synthetic colorants can cause various health issues, such as allergic disorders, skin irritation, and digestive problems. For instance, synthetic orange-red color induces allergy-like reactions & hyperactivity in children. Some studies suggest that removing artificial food colors from children's diets may help reduce symptoms of attention-related disorders and other behavioral problems. Also, according to the African Journal of Biotechnology, high consumption of tartrazine is linked to cancer and is known to trigger asthma attacks, hazy vision, eczema, and skin reactions.

Thus, the risk of such health problems due to the consumption of artificial food colors and the growing health consciousness among consumers have increased the utilization of natural colors in food, beverage, pharmaceutical, and cosmetic products. Furthermore, government authorities are undertaking initiatives to discontinue the marketing licenses of products containing synthetic colors. For instance:

  • In 2017, Japan and all European countries banned the trading of products containing synthetic food colors. Additionally, in 2022, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 food colors were banned in Norway and Austria; products containing these colors must have warnings on their labels for sale in the European Union.
  • In 2021, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) banned titanium dioxide (E171), a synthetic food additive, in Europe.
  • In 2009, the U.K. Food Standard Agency phased out the synthetic food color tartrazine.
  • Amaranth has been banned in the U.S. since 1974, as it causes a rash similar to nettle rash, particularly among those with aspirin intolerance or asthma.
  • Since 1994, the synthetic food color Allura Red AC has been banned in Denmark, Belgium, France, and Switzerland.
  • The food color Erythrosine has been banned in Norway and the U.S., as it is linked to thyroid disorders.
  • Carmoisine has been banned in Sweden, the U.S., Japan, and Norway. It has also been phased out in the U.K. as it is linked to allergic reactions and intolerance.
  • Since 2016, the Gulf countries Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE have restricted the use of colorants Allura Red AC (INS 129), Sunset Yellow (INS 110), Azorubine/Carmoisine (INS 122), and Tartrazine (INS 102). Products containing these synthetic colorants must provide a warning on the product label, mentioning that the product may negatively impact cognition and concentration in children.

Thus, the health hazards of synthetic colors and strict regulations governing the use of synthetic colors are expected to boost the consumption of natural food colorants, including phycocyanin, driving the growth of this market.

Meticulous Research®, in its latest publication on the Global Phycocyanin Market, states that, in terms of value, the phycocyanin market is projected to reach $279.6 million by 2030, at a CAGR of 28.1% during the forecast period 2023–2030. In terms of volume, the global phycocyanin market is projected to reach 3,587.2 tons by 2030 at a CAGR of 33.8% from 2023 to 2030.

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