DIC to increase natural blue production

18 Nov 2016

DIC Corporation has announced that it will expand the production capacity of its California-based subsidiary Earthrise Nutritionals for Linablue, a natural blue food colouring derived from edible algae Spirulina.

DIC to increase natural blue production

DIC Corporation has announced that it will expand the production capacity of its California-based subsidiary Earthrise Nutritionals for Linablue, a natural blue food colouring derived from edible algae Spirulina. Investment in this project, estimated at approximately US$13 million, follows the investment of around US$10 million in November 2013 for its first expansion. The planned increase in production capacity is undisclosed. New facilities are scheduled to commence operation in 2018.

Consumer concern for food safety and security is rising, DIC notes, and the increase in more educated and health-conscious consumers has influenced major food product manufacturers in the Americas and Europe to announce their plans to make the switch from using artificial to natural food colourings. In light of these trends, DIC said it expects that the global market for natural blue food colouring will grow by 50% annually from 2016 through 2020.

In 2013, DIC explains, phycocyanin, the blue food colouring extracted from Spirulina, became the first natural blue food colouring to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Since then, demand for phycocyanin has increased drastically, particularly in the Americas and Europe, which have seen a rapid shift in consumer demand toward natural food colorings. Concurrently, sales of the DIC Group's commercial phycocyanin product Linablue-long a global market leader-have risen sharply, particularly for use in frozen sweets and confections. In addition to Linablue being used as a vivid blue colorant, phycocyanin can be combined with natural yellow and red pigments to create food colourings that impart more vibrant greens and purples. Accordingly, demand for these applications are also expanding.

Earthrise's integrated production capabilities for Spirulina, encompassing everything from the cultivation of high-grade Spirulina to refining and manufacturing of finished products, ensure the safety and quality of its products and provide peace of mind to its customers. The company's food safety management system has earned certification from major global accreditation organizations, including Food Safety System Certification (FSSC) 22000 in 2016. The DIC Group's Spirulina production facility on Hainan Island, in the People's Republic of China, is also working to obtain FSSC 22000 certification.

The DIC Group says it currently has over 90% of the global market share for Spirulina-derived natural blue food colouring. With the expansion of Earthrise's production capacity, the DIC Group is moving to ensure worldwide supremacy, positioning it to capitalize on sharp market expansion to quadruple its 2015 sales of Linablue by 2020.

DIC Group says it is currently exploring ways to extract the other pigments that remain in the Spirulina biomass after the blue pigment has been removed, as well as its use as a plant derived protein in food and animal feed. Having identified Spirulina as a next-generation business to be cultivated under its new medium-term management plan, DIC108, which began in 2016, the Group said it will also promote R&D aimed at swiftly commercializing products based on these themes.