Bioscience company Chr. Hansen has collaborated with two Danish universities on the development of a modern fermentation process for the production of the natural red pigment carmine.
The production of carmine has previously relied on the cultivation of the cochineal, which lives on cactus plants. Each kilogram of carmine requires the manual collection of 100,000 cochineals, which drives the cost of the natural colour up significantly.
Researchers from Chr. Hansen, the University of Copenhagen’s department of plant and environmental sciences, and the Technical University of Denmark’s department of systems biology have uncovered the complicated processes involved in the natural production of carmine. They have used this insight, along with advanced biotechnology, to produce carmine by a modern process of fermentation.
The first of a series of patents that protects the technology has been published today.
Chr. Hansen CEO Cees de Jong said: “This is a potential game-changer for carmine production. The new technology is expected to make production of carmine more cost-efficient and thereby further lower the barriers for conversion to natural colors.
“When the technology is ready for use, Chr. Hansen has an excellent position to exploit it. Fermentation is our core competence and we are market leading within natural colors.”
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