Demand for annatto colouring provides work for women in Latin America

© iStock/Dominic Sender

Local women farmers in Latin America are being offered a secure income due to the increased demand for natural annatto colouring.

Frutarom Natural Solutions are offering women the chance to contribute to the safe, sustainable and consistent supply of the colouring.

Annatto is an orange-red food colouring derived from the seeds of the Achiote tree found in tropical regions of the Americas. It was originally used by natives to create body pain and lipstick, as well as being used as a spice.

It is popular due to its high stability against light, heat and oxidation, as well as the colouring being ‘exempt from certification’ in the United States according to FDA regulation.

The demand for natural annatto colouring is growing globally, causing Frutarom to launch the initiative.

“Global food and beverage companies are shifting quickly from Yellow 5 and 6 artificial colors to natural annatto in a wide range of food applications,” said Yoni Glickman, president of Frutarom Natural Solutions.

“Frutarom’s advanced extraction of the seeds also enables recovery of high-antioxidant vitamin E while significantly minimizing fruit waste. Suppliers of natural colors are in a race to provide sufficient supplies of natural annatto coloring”.

As a result, Frutarom says it is encouraging women to become independent farmers and to grow annatto in their fields.

The ingredients specialist says it will offer education, training and technical support to farmers to ensure high quality annatto is harvested.

Frutarom will then purchase all the harvest annatto “at a fair price”.

Glickman says the initiative is a “win-win” situration.

Traditionally in Latin America, women are keepers of the home and struggle to achieve their own income. Frutarom says this is one of the main reasons behind the initiative.

According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Bank, women represent 43% of the world’s agricultural labour force on average.

“Women are playing a big role in changing the food system to create a well-nourished world. They are taking on larger and more defined roles in food and agriculture, globally,” said Danielle Nierenberg, president of FoodTank.

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