Chr. Hansen researchers have collaborated with the University of Copenhagen, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences (KU) and Technical University of Denmark, Department of Systems Biology (DTU), to produce carmine by a modern fermentation process. The first of a series of patents that protects the technology has just been published.

Carmine is a long-established natural red pigment, used in a broad range of food and beverage applications. The production method relies on cultivation of the cochineal that lives on cactus plants. One kilo of carmine requires manual collection of 100,000 cochineals, which adds significantly to the cost of the natural color.

Researchers from Chr Hansen, KU and DTU have now uncovered the complicated processes involved in the natural production of carmine. Using this insight and state of the art biotechnology the researchers have produced carmine by a modern fermentation process and Chr. Hansen is now filing patents to protect the technology.

“This is a potential game-changer for carmine production,” says Cees de Jong, Chr. Hansen CEO. “The new technology is expected to make production of carmine more cost-efficient and thereby further lower the barriers for conversion to natural colors.”

de Jong notes that fermented carmine is still some years away from commercialization, as the process needs further optimization.

“When the technology is ready for use, Chr. Hansen has an excellent position to exploit it,” he adds. “Fermentation is our core competence and we are market leading within natural colors.”

For more information on fermented carmine, please contact Finn Okkels, New Technology Manager, Chr. Hansen Natural Colors, on +45 5339 0730 or

Chr. Hansen is a global bioscience company that develops natural ingredient solutions for the food, nutritional, pharmaceutical and agricultural industries. The products include cultures, enzymes, probiotics and natural colors, and all solutions are based on strong research and development competencies coupled with significant technology investments. Revenue in the 2013/14 financial year was EUR 756 million.

The company holds a leading market position in all its divisions: Cultures & Enzymes, Health & Nutrition and Natural Colors. It has more than 2,500 dedicated employees in over 30 countries and main production facilities in Denmark, France, USA and Germany. Chr. Hansen was founded in 1874 and is listed on NASDAQ OMX Copenhagen.