University Project Fills the Gap on Colored Corn

c56776f3-0591-41b9-a8dc-a09c37c5ddb5articleimage.jpg

19 May 2017 --- Consumers today insist on all-natural everything, and food dyes are no exception. Even if food manufacturers are willing to make the change, current sources of natural dyes are expensive and hard to come by. Now, a large University of Illinois project is filling the gap with colored corn.

“Most natural colors come from things like wine skins, red carrots, and beets. The problem with that is most of the product is wasted in extracting the coloring. It’s not good value,” says Jack Juvik, a geneticist in the crop sciences department at University of Illinois.

Juvik and an interdisciplinary team have been experimenting with purple and blue corn varieties, noting that health-promoting pigments known as anthocyanins are located in the outer layers of the corn kernel. That makes a big difference, economically.

“You can process corn in different ways to remove only the outer layer. The rest can still be fed into the corn supply chain to make ethanol or grits or any of the other products corn is already used for. That outer layer becomes a value-added co-product,” Juvik says.

The team has covered a lot of bases since the $1.4 million project began in 2014. For example, they identified the optimal milling process and demonstrated that corn-derived anthocyanins remain stable in food products. What’s left is to find the most potent sources of the pigments for future corn breeding. 

In a recent study, Juvik and his colleagues looked at anthocyanin type and concentration in nearly 400 genetically distinct lines of colored corn. They grew these lines in Illinois to see if anthocyanin concentration stayed constant from generation to generation – a critical quality for breeding new varieties.

Peruvian types had some of the highest anthocyanin concentrations, and they held up throughout multiple generations. “That’s good news. It means we can select for the trait we’re interested in without worrying whether it will be expressed in new environments,” Juvik says.

The next step will be getting those mighty Peruvian genes into high-yielding corn hybrids selected for production in the Midwest. If Juvik is successful, blue or purple corn could come to a field near you.

The article, “A survey of anthocyanin composition and concentration in diverse maize germplasm,” is published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Co-authors Michael Paulsmeyer and Laura Chatham are graduate students and Talon Becker a post-doctoral scholar in the crop sciences department at U of I. Megan West and Leslie West worked for The Kraft Heinz Company, which supported the project. Additional support came from the Illinois Corn Grower’s Association and Monsanto.

To contact our editorial team please email us at editorial@cnsmedia.com

Related Articles

Packaging & Technology News

Less is more: The future of lightweighting and source reduction

27 Apr 2018 --- Lightweighting and source reduction has always been a focused area of the packaging industry because it has easily-defined benefits through the minimization of material, production and transport costs. Food and beverage producers, retailers and restaurants now have more ambitious goals than ever in terms of sustainability which has increased the pressure on suppliers to create more effective and diversified eco-friendly packaging.

Nutrition & Health News

Next-generation yeast: Renaissance BioScience partners with Mitacs

17 Apr 2018 --- Leading global yeast technology company, Renaissance BioScience Corporation, has announced a Cdn$1.44 million multi-year research and development project with Mitacs, a national not-for-profit research and training organization. Mitacs will provide matching funding to the RBSC project to support the development of next-generation, systematic tools and methods for expanding, screening and selecting biodiversity in non-GMO industrial yeast strains.

Packaging & Technology News

Alufoil Trophy 2018: Winners demonstrate impact shelf presence and resource efficiency

12 Apr 2018 --- Excellence in shelf presence, environmental sustainability and consumer experience were the key features of the 2018 Alufoil Trophy. Organized by the European Aluminum Foil Association (EAFA), the prestigious annual event displays excellence in aluminum foil innovation and technology across a wide range of applications, notably food and beverage packaging and pharmaceutical.

Food Ingredients News

Barry Callebaut sales volumes rise 8 percent, boosted by European and US performance

11 Apr 2018 --- Swiss chocolate maker Barry Callebaut has reported a sales volumes increase of 8.0 percent in the first half of the company’s fiscal year 2017/18 results, which is significantly above the global chocolate market growth rate of +2.5 percent, helped by a strong performance in Europe and accelerating growth in the Americas.

Food Ingredients News

Bayer-Monsanto tie-up clears another hurdle as US Justice Department allows mega deal

10 Apr 2018 --- The US Justice Department has given the green light for German multinational Bayer to acquire Monsanto in a US$60bn-plus deal, following a series of divestments from both companies to allay anti-trust concerns. This is the latest nod of approval in the so-called “mega deal” which would make Bayer and Monsanto the world's largest integrated pesticides and seeds company. Following the planned acquisition, the new company would have a share of more than a quarter of the world’s seed and pesticides market.

More Articles