‘Unusual colours’ on trend: Naturex taps spirulina for clean label blues and greens

By Flora Southey contact

- Last updated on GMT

©Getty/viennetta
©Getty/viennetta

Related tags: spirulina, France

Naturex has developed an extraction line for spirulina-based food colouring, to meet growing demand for natural blue and green shades in confectionary and beverages.

The new extraction line, titled the 'Vegebite Ultimate Spirulina' collection, offers a range of natural blues and greens available in varying concentration levels, in both powder and liquid form.

The colours are sourced from on-trend 'superfood spirulina, and processed in Naturex's facility in Avignon, France, where the extraction line has tripled spirulina production capacity.

Spirulina is a microscopic fresh water blue-green alga, grown and harvested in aquatic farms around the world. It is best known for its antioxidant properties, high nutrient content, and vibrant colour.

Naturex, a leader in plant extraction for natural food solutions, uses a water-based process to extract the alga’s colour – present in its phycocyanin pigment-protein complex – to ensure the colouring meets demand for 100% natural, clean-label formulation.

Naturex_Spirulina_Production_2019
Spirulina production ©Naturex

“The natural colour landscape is constantly evolving”,​ according to Naturex global product manager for colours, Nathalie Pauleau.

“Natural colours are now a prerequisite in many countries around the world. But health-conscious consumers want to go even further in their quest for transparency and must be provided with fully clean formulations, as minimally processed as possible,” ​she said.

Blue and green, increasingly seen?

Vegebite Ultimate Spirulina offers all shades of blue, and green when blended with Naturex’s natural yellow. The product can be used across the food industry, from confectionery, to cake decoration, in ice cream and juice drinks.

The colour blue is attracting increased attention from consumers who are looking for new food experiences, Naturex director of business development, colours, Elija Church told FoodNavigator.

“Blue and green shades have been experiencing a great success in the food industry in recent years.Consumers are always on the lookout for new natural experiences that will open new culinary horizons,” ​he continued.

“Unusual colours are part of this trend and we are confident that there will be plenty of opportunity for spirulina in the future.”

Social media may play a role in the uptake of blue and green pigments in finished food products, Church suggested.

“Food colours also impact consumer responses and purchasing decisions, and food is one of the most popular subjects for social media posts, particularly on Instagram,” ​he said, adding that consumers are attracted to “spectacular” ​and “’Insta ready’” ​colours and products.

Neutral taste profile assured

While spirulina has achieved success in the health food and supplement market, its taste does not appeal to all – with some describing its flavour profile as similar to that of seaweed, or less appealingly, to Sulpher.

Church, however, assured us that that Naturex’s natural colouring does not impart a spirulina-like taste to food.

“Vegebrite Ultimate Spirulina contains only sufficient phycocyanin pigment derived from microscopic fresh water blue-green algae to provide desired colour.

“It does not affect the taste of any product in which it is used.”

Givaudan M&A

Givaudan acquired a 40.6% stake in Naturex in 2018.

The Swiss flavours and fragrances group said it planned to launch a mandatory cash-tender offer for the remaining shares of the French listed group. 

According to Givaudan, the acquisition increases its presence in the natural ingredients market.

“The acquisition of a signficiant shareholding in Naturex fits fully with our 2020 strategy to expand our offering to deliver natural products to our customers,” ​Givaudan CEO Gilles Andrier commented at the time.

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