Bjarne Joernsgaard. Photo: Chr. Hansen.
Chr. Hansen is a Danish company producing colorants. In a project they now cooperate with Copenhagen University to find new carrot varieties with such strong pigment that it can be extracted to produce natural colorants.
“Commercial varieties of carrots only have a limited amount of carotene, about 0,0015%. But in NordGen’s collections we have found important genetic resources that can be used to develop new varieties with a higher content”, says Bjarne Joernsgaard, Crop Science Manager at Chr. Hansen Natural Colors, who is performing field trials in the picture above.
In the project, orange and purple carrots from NordGen’s collections are used. And it is evident that natural colorants is preferred by both consumers and producers.
“Synthetic colorants are cheap to produce in large quantities and are often more stable than most of the natural colorants. But although there are synthetic colorants that are perfectly harmless, there is an ever-present discussion of whether some of the substances in our food could be allergenic or in other ways bad for our health. Therefore, there has been a growing interest to replace the synthetic colorants with natural ones based on juice concentrate from fruit and vegetables”, says Sabine K. Clausen, post-doc at Copenhagen University and responsible for the research project.
The orange carrot is actually quite a new invention. It was developed in the 18th century in the Netherlands but had an immediate success as it reached the Nordic countries. Today, NordGen keep seeds of more than 1oo different carrots of
various colours. And some of them are now used to develop more natural food.
“This is a perfect example of how important it is that NordGen keep a broad collection. No one could have foreseen that we could make use of these characteristics, but without NordGen’s work they would be lost forever”,says Bjarne Joernsgaard.
The story of the carrots is merely one of many examples of how NordGen’s work contribute to benefits in the society. Discover a few more in our brochure available for download here.