Gavan’s proprietary technology optimises spirulina blue colouring for hot and cold drinks

Food-tech start-up Gavan has created a wide array of natural blue colourings for hot-and cold drinks via a proprietary technology. Gavan developed an innovative method for extracting an entirely natural, pure blue that delivers high performance and high stability.

Derived from spirulina, this new natural blue holds up under high-heat processing and in low pH, enabling full pasteurisation. The platform allows for a full spectrum of stable shades of blue. The new colouring formulation is ideal for hot beverages such as tea and coffee, as well as functional drinks and sport drinks. Such products typically require specific production parameters, including infusion in boiling water or acidic medium.

The blue challenge

Vivid blue foods and beverages are eye-catching and exciting. However, consumers increasingly wish to avoid the artificial additives that create the vivid colours. Finding an all-around solution to the natural blue problem has been an undeniable challenge.

“Both synthetic blue dyes and plant-based blue colouring have regulatory, stability, intensity, or price challenges,” explained Yael Leader, head of product for Gavan. “The main barrier to creating food formulations with natural colours is stability—the ability to overcome formulation challenges and ensure vibrant and consistent true blue throughout the product’s shelf life.”

The blue challenge is even more evident in beverages. Delivering a heat-stable, naturally-derived, vibrant blue for products with low pH is tricky. Any heat treatment might impact the colour irreversibly, and any shift in the pH can impair the colour stability and influence the blue colour’s shade.

“A growing trend in beverages is fortified drinks with high amount of vitamins and minerals,” added Leader. “These ingredients can react with the pigment and accelerate the colour-degradation process, cause fading, or create a complex binding of pigments and minerals that can deposit sedimentation in the final application.”

Getting the blues

Phycocyanin is a pigment-protein complex found in blue-green algae that naturally produces a beautiful pure blue. Gavan utilises its innovative technology to extract phycocyanin from spirulina and produce a stable, natural blue colourant. Blue is one of the three primary colours and as such, it opens a window to producing other high-in-demand colours—anywhere from non-chlorophyll green to purple shades. These varieties also are highly stable and vivid.

Gavan’s non-GMO technology extracts and optimises the colourant gently, without damaging the source, and enables the extraction of multiple compounds from the whole spirulina, without waste. The technology protects the colourant from fading, even at pH as low as 3.0 or when pasteurised at 90°C for 30 seconds. In addition, the platform’s control over particle size offers improved stability throughout the final product’s shelf life.

“Gavan’s proprietary technology enables us to transform spirulina or other plant-based compounds and sources into easy-to-use, water-dispersible food colourings suitable for hot and cold beverages,” contributed Itai Cohen, CEO and co-founder of Gavan. “Gavan’s blue can replace artificial colouring and opens options for acidic beverages to be coloured with any blue shades. It has no impact on flavour, and maintains a clear, clean label. Our advanced platform can revolutionise plant-based products across multiple categories.”