Commercial Applications

In view of the large body of research on the appearance, stability, analysis, and plant breeding of anthocyanins, that occur naturally in fruit and vegetable products, it is not surprising that anthocyanin colorants would be used to enhance the aesthetic appeal of existing plant products or formulated substitutes. Actually, one of the first applications of enocyanin, a generic term for colorants from grapes, was to improve the color of wine. In the United States, fruit drinks are the biggest market. Colorants containing anthocyanins have been suggested for beverages, jellies, jams, ice cream, yogurt, gelatin desserts, canned fruits, fruit sauces, candy and confections, bakery fillings, toppings, drink-mix crystals, pastries, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals.

Anthocyanin colorants have their greatest color intensity at pH values between 2 and 4. Figure 3 shows the changes in absorption of cyanidin-3-rhamnoglucoside as the pH is changed from 0.71 to 4.02. Figure 4 shows the chemical changes that accompany a pH change Figure 5 shows the amounts of each pigment present at each pH value. It is possible to use an anthocyanin colorant to color a product with a pH value above 4, but the color will be bluish and considerably more colorant will be required. The reduction in color intensity as the pH is raised, known as the pH effect, is much more obvious with preparations that contain a high proportion of monomeric anthocyanins and less in preparations with a higher content of polymerized or degraded pigments, but all preparations show the pH effect to some degree. The pigments are also susceptible to degradation by light, oxygen, iron, copper, tin, ascorbic acid, and sulfur dioxide. Applications are also restricted to those with minimal heat treatment, but despite these apparent problems with stability, this group of colorants has met with good commercial success.

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