Since milk has a neutral pH, natural color sources such as beta-carotene, annatto, turmeric, carmine, and beet work well and provide a wide variety of color options in the yellow to orange and pink to red hue range. Caramel colors and NaturBrown™ ingredients can provide a variety of hues for chocolate milk and instant chocolate milk mixes. It is often necessary to blend caramel color with beet in order to attain a “chocolate“ hue.
Blue, purple, and green hues can be achieved in novelty dry mixes for milk beverages using spirulina and spirulina blends.
Whipped Cream and Non-Dairy Creamer
Technical advances have resulted in more shelf-stable liquid creamers. Non-dairy products such as coffee creamers and imitation whipped cream topping contain carotenoid colouring, most often beta-carotene or annatto. Powdered non dairy creamers contain annatto to offset the powder whiteness and deliver a product with a creamier appearance. Additional colouring types e.g., red beet for strawberry, can help emphasize flavor identity such as chocolate.
Consumer demand for alternatives to dairy has driven beverage processors to offer plant-based, drinks containing phytonutrients and fortified with calcium. Some of these products declare "Lactrose-Free" on the principal display panel. According to Innova Market Research, the category is becoming less niche and more mainstream. Popular offerings include soy, rice, almond, hazelnut, oats or barley. Nut milk from almonds, cashews or peanuts is a dairy-free trend cited by Sterling-Rice, as a "Top 10" food trend for 2014.
The neutral pH of milk alternatives negates the use of anthocyanin colouring. Soy milk often contains beta-carotene to identify vanilla or tropical fruit flavors. Chocolate (or cappuccino) flavored soy milk may contain caramel colour. Soy protein's colloidal charge will determine which class of caramel to use. To achieve a strawberry hue, developers may formulate with carmine or red beet combined with annatto.