Reliable egg yolk pigmentation with Lucantin® products

The visual appearance of food has a critical impact on the consumer’s buying decision and eating behavior. In a figurative sense, we also eat with our eyes. This is because the product’s appearance or color is perceived as an indicator of good quality and freshness. Many consumers, for example, prefer an intensely gold-colored egg yolk when buying eggs. Optimum pigmentation of the egg yolk that is tailored precisely to the requirements of the consumer can be achieved with BASF’s Lucantin® carotenoids.

Selecting the color of the egg yolk
The consumer’s perception as to what is an “appropriate” color is dependent on his personal experiences, cultural background, and geographic location. This is illustrated by the fact that consumers in different parts of the world prefer different egg yolk colors. The Lucantin® product line from BASF is designed to help tailor the egg yolk color precisely to the requirements of the specific market and to achieve reliable pigmentation results.

With BASF’s egg yolk color fan, the color of the egg yolk can be selected on a scale from 1 to 15, which in turn determines the required Lucantin® dosage (see Figure). The Lucantin® product range comprises efficient C30 ester (Lucantin® Yellow), canthaxanthin (Lucantin® Red), and citranaxanthin (Lucantin® CX Forte) formulations. Lucantin® formulations can substitute pigments derived from natural sources.

Naturally occurring pigments are found in plants; these include lutein and zeaxanthin in maize or marigold flowers (tagetes) as well as in alfalfa or grass meal. Carotenoid content in nature, however, varies from plant to plant, with the result that variations in egg pigmentation must be expected when using naturally occurring pigments in layer feed.

Less pronounced coloration effect with naturally occurring pigments
To achieve the required coloration of the egg yolk, the varying coloring effects of the pigments must also be taken into consideration. Studies conducted by BASF as well as other scientific data indicate that only about one third of C30 ester active substance is required to substitute the active marigold pigment (lutein) and to achieve an equivalent egg yolk pigmentation result. The substitution rate of C30 ester compared with lutein is therefore approximately 1:3 (see Table 1).

When applying this substitution ratio to the formulated products, i.e., Lucantin® Yellow in a 10% C30 ester formulation compared with a 2% marigold product, the substitution rate of the formulated products is 1 to 15 (i.e., 1 to 5 multiplied by 3).

Table 1:

Marigold products compared with C30 ester in the coloring of egg yolks

Test Amount of active substance in animal feed (mg/kg)
C-30 ester Marigold Canthaxanthin Egg yolk color fan value
BASF, Halle, 1999 3.3 5.0 13.1
10.0 5.0 12.9
BASF, Reus, 1999 3.3 3.0 12.1
10.0 3.0 12.1

Appropriate color intensity of the egg yolk, however, is crucially dependent not only on the color strength of the particular carotenoid but also on the pigment deposition rate. As illustrated in Table 2, C30 esters are superior to the other pigments in this aspect as well.

Table 2:

Egg yolk deposition rate of various carotenoids

Carotinoid Egg yolk color (due to the carotenoid) Egg yolk deposition rate in % of consumption
C-30 ester Golden yellow 49
Zeaxanthin Golden yellow 18
Lutein Lemon yellow 20
Xanthophyll (marigold) Lemon yellow 15-20
Canthaxanthin* Yellow orange–orange red 39
Citranaxanthin* Yellow orange–orange red 15
Note: * with appropriate yellow base

When selecting the pigment, it is recommended to consider additional factors, such as the shelf life of the product. The shelf life of naturally occurring pigments, for example, is shorter than the nature-identical pigments from BASF. After 6 months of storage, only 65% of yellow pigments still remain in alfalfa meal on average, while in maize approximately 70–80% are still present.

Furthermore, the quality and quantity of naturally occurring pigments (e.g., marigold) is impacted by the weather, cultivation, and harvest conditions. All these factors play virtually no role in nature-identical products, since Lucantin® carotenoids from BASF are not exposed to weather- or cultivation-related influences

Stable carotenoids in feed
The use of synthetic carotenoids also ensures consistent stability in the premix or ready-to-use feed, which may vary when using naturally occurring pigments. A state-of-the-art microencapsulation process is used to manufacture sturdy, free-flowing beadlets, which protect the carotenoid’s active substance for up to 18 months. Lucantin® Yellow, Lucantin® Red, and Lucantin® CX Forte consistently have high concentration and bioavailability.

These exceptional product properties, the reliable pigmentation results, and BASF’s many years of experience in the formulation of high-quality feed additives confirm that Lucantin® products are a strong brand and BASF is a reliable partner.

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