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Black carrots and red beets to improve profitability


Launched in 2014, the Danish Innovation Consortium BioFactory works on the use of substances from plants for food ingredients and other biological products. 10 partners including companies, research institutions and knowledge partners including Biopeople work on Biofactory’ s various sub projects one of which was presented at the recent Food-In-2 Health Agora at the University of Copenhagen.

Gregorio Barba-Espin and Cecilie Uldal brought a poster to the Agora describing their work on natural color production derived from carrot and red beet. The background for their work on natural color pigments is the increasing demand for natural food pigments to substitute synthetic colors, but also the cosmetics industry has a need for natural color pigments in make-up.

“The major classes of plant pigments are the so-called anthocyanins (red-purple/blue colors), the carotenoids (orange-red and betanins (yellow-red,” Gregorio Barba-Espin explains: “and carrots and red beet are suitable sources of these pigments.”

“Our project aims at increasing the pigment yields in the orange-colored carrot and the so-called black carrot cultivars and the red beet,” Gregorio says. “If we can increase the pigmentation in these vegetables it will be possible to produce the natural colors at a lower cost and thereby an improved profitability.”

The group works to increase pigmentation through field trials, where they expose carrots and beets to various stimuli and analyzes them afterwards for the effects on the pigment production. In addition, the group furthermore analyzes the post-harvest environment to see which conditions influence the pigmentation.

Partners in Biofactory are:

Chr. Hansen A/S
Knud Jepsen A/S
AdvanSeed ApS
Gartneriet Alfred Pedersen & Søn ApS
Herrens Mark ApS
The University of Copenhagen – Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences (KU-PLEN)
The University of Southern Denmark – Department of Chemical Engineering, Biotechnology and Environmental Technology (SDU-KBM)
AgroTech A/S Institute for Agri Technology and Food Innovation
Danish Agriculture and Food Council

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