Scientists break the code for a new natural blue color10 Dec 2021
Graduate-level food scientists at Cornell University have discovered how to stabilize, phycocyanin, a food colorant that provides a vivid blue pigment, according to research published in the American Chemical Society’s journal BioMacromolecules.
This natural, algae-derived protein is the main ingredient in spirulina and has long been known as a source of natural blue hues, but its color properties fade quickly if put into acidified beverages or subjected to thermal treatment, Alireza Abbaspourrada, a professor of food chemistry and ingredient technology told the Cornell Chronicle.
Scientists discovered there is a close relationship between the protein structure of this algae and color stability. When testing the shades of blue it exudes at different levels of acidity, the researchers created a clear picture of how varying pH levels affect the intensity of the blue. With this in-depth knowledge of the algal protein’s properties, the study’s authors now believe they have an opportunity to stabilize this protein to ensure consistent color.
Blue is a tricky color to replace with natural hues. Not only are there few sources of natural blue, but the ones that exist often impart tones that are not as vibrant as their artificial counterparts. They are instead reminiscent of moldy hues, which trigger humans’ evolutionarily-programmed danger warnings. Since humans are so sensitive to colors in their food, it is therefore important to get the shade right — which in the case of blue means rich, vibrant, and saturated.
For years, manufacturers have worked with ingredients from purple cabbage to the tropical fruit huito to recreate the rich blues that so many brands use. However, there has been only marginal success with these alternatives. Algae, and more specifically spirulina, has shown to be the most promising candidate to derive a natural blue. Nevertheless, until this recent finding by researchers, it has been difficult to use this natural colorant in a wide variety of applications. Worse yet, there is a limited supply of spirulina, meaning that even if manufacturers were able to stabilize this natural source of blue, the next challenge would be to ensure a sufficient supply.
As blue is the most common answer for people’s favorite color, according to Forbes, manufacturers will likely continue persevering to find the right natural shade of this coveted color. And although this discovery represents a significant breakthrough, there are still many hurdles ahead, including determining how to stabilize spirulina’s blue for use across food applications.
B.T. Sweets launches botanical sugar alternative
7 Dec 2021
The two-year-old startup B.T. Sweets is debuting Cambya, a plant-based, one-to-one sugar replacer made from soluble fibers, monk fruit, and select botanicals. Unlike other sugar substitutes, the company says that Cambya does not require any masking age...Read more
Hooray! Plant-based bacon maker gets $2.7M
6 Dec 2021
Plant-based bacon startup Hooray Foods closed a $2.7 million extension of its seed round that originally brought the company a $2 million influx of cash this summer. The company says it intends to use this infusion of capital to scale its production of...Read more
Nestlé backs vegan chicken brand Sundial Foods
1 Dec 2021
The world’s largest food conglomerate Nestlé is backing a California-based startup that makes plant-based chicken wings with meat, skin and bone. The Swiss food giant participated in a $4 million funding round for Sundial Foods that included other inve...Read more
Snacking brand Brave launches cookies and cream chickpea bites
23 Nov 2021
Chickpea snack brand Brave announced it is launching three new flavors to its lineup: Cookies & Cream, BBQ and Salt & Vinegar. The cookies and cream flavor is an indulgent snack which the company says is a world-first and is also compliant with the new...Read more
Mondelez looks to replace sugar with ultrasonic "welding"
18 Nov 2021
Snack maker Mondelez International is testing Torr FoodTech’s sugar elimination technology, which allows manufacturers to omit added sugar and binders. Coined iWeld, Torr's technology combines ingredients with mechanical pressure and processes like ult...Read more
Caju Love startup is making meat out of cashews
16 Nov 2021
Hawaiian startup Caju Love recently launched a vegan meat alternative made from cashew fruit. Typically, cashew fruit is considered a waste product in the nut and juice industry, so the company chose this fiber-filled fruit in an effort to create a zer...Read more
Sweden’s Nick’s lands $100M funding Round
5 Nov 2021
Better-for-you ice cream and snack brand Nick’s closed a $100 million funding round led by Kinnevik, Ambrosia and Temasek with participation from Gullspang. The company said these funds will be allocated to expanding its portfolio of healthy snacks usi...Read more
Cocoa-free chocolate company raises $6M for expansion
4 Nov 2021
Germany’s QOA, a startup striving to create chocolate without the cocoa, closed a $6 million funding round led by Cherry Ventures with participation from 50years, World Fund, Nucleus Capital, Trellis Road, Pioneer Fund, and Tet Ventures.Read more
Impossible Foods eyes UK as its next market
27 Oct 2021
Plant-based meat company Impossible Foods is continuing to expand its empire, and its next target is the U.K. The California company submitted an application for approval with the U.K. Food Standards Agency in early 2021, and Food Navigator reported th...Read more
EU approves protein ingredient from Eat Just
25 Oct 2021
Eat Just, the company behind the mung bean-based Just Egg, received approval from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) stating that its novel mung bean protein used in its egg substitute is safe for consumption. It is the first novel legume protei...Read more
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