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Environment

DIC expands natural blue food color

November 28, 2016 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 94, ISSUE 47

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Credit: Evan-Amos/Wikimedia Commons
Mars plans to phase out use of artificial colors, including blue.
Credit: Evan-Amos/Wikimedia Commons
Mars plans to phase out use of artificial colors, including blue.

Earthrise Nutritionals, a California-based subsidiary of Japan’s DIC Group, will spend $13 million to expand its production of a natural blue food coloring made from Spirulina, a corkscrew-shaped cyanobacteria used mostly as a dietary supplement. In 2013, the confectionary company Mars obtained FDA approval to use phycocyanin, a blue extract from Spirulina, to color foods. Earlier this year, Mars vowed to phase out the use of synthetic colors over the next five years. DIC claims to have 90% of the global market for natural blue color from Spirulina and says it expects demand to grow 50% annually through 2020. Earthrise cultivates the cyanobacteria in an 180,000 m2 outdoor facility that currently yields about 500 metric tons per year. DIC is exploring ways to extract other pigments from Spirulina and use the remaining proteins in food and animal feed.

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