Article | Jan 08. 2024 - 1:59PM

True blue – we go to the ends of the earth to meet your natural color needs

Our expert

Chari Rai

Head of Applications & Regulatory Affairs North America

As Oterra’s Head of Applications and Regulatory Affairs in the US, I am often approached for solutions to replace synthetic blue colors in a range of applications.

Consumers are demanding healthier and more sustainable ingredients and colors from natural sources are an important part of this. Manufacturers are trying hard to satisfy these demands, but with some colors, particularly blues, greens, and purples, it has not been easy.

There are a few natural blue options on the market including butterfly pea and spirulina extract with each having its strengths and weaknesses. Butterfly pea is an anthocyanin that can remain blue at higher pH levels, but turns purple in more acidic environments.

Spirulina provides a beautiful, clear blue similar to FD&C Blue #1. It’s perfect for low-temperature, neutral pH applications, but will rapidly fade in high-temperature baking processes. Also, since spirulina is a popular, high-value food supplement, using it for color will always compete with its use as a supplement, making it difficult to substantially reduce the price.

Oterra’s Jungle Blue range of jagua blue natural colors

Jagua blue is a water-soluble color that comes from the fruit of the jagua tree. It delivers a deep blue shade, more similar to that of FD&C Blue #2 than to the “primary blue” of Blue #1. The pigment is a genipin polymer, which is a very stable molecular chain. It’s pH stable in all common food applications, and it doesn’t flocculate, precipitate, or change shade in acidic environments. This makes jagua blue ideal for non-alcoholic fruit beverages, confectionery, and fruit preparations.

With its ability to withstand thermal processes, Jagua blue is also perfect for high-temperature applications such as extrusion. It can be blended into the dry mix before extrusion or dissolved into the water added into the extruder barrel. Either way, a fantastic blue cereal can finally be produced.

It’s easy to combine into dry powder blends and quickly dissolves in water, giving a strong and even color. Simple agitation is enough to ensure full dissolution. This makes Jagua blue perfect for instant frosting and icing mixes where only a little water is added before it’s all mixed and the product is good to use.

Delve deeper into the wonders of Jungle Blue

In our marketing materials, we allude to a “journey” or an “adventure.” It’s fun because of jagua’s jungle origins, but it’s also relevant because a stable primary color blue opens the door to exploring all sorts of color blends. To experiment with green, try turmeric, orange carrot, palm fruit, carotene, and annatto. In the other direction of the color wheel, there are a myriad of pink and red natural colors including Oterra’s exclusive red ‘Hansen sweet potato’ to produce purple shades. A whole rainbow of naturally colored RTE cereals and extruded snacks is now possible to delight kids and their parents.

With halal & kosher suitability and non-GMO status, Jagua blue is a great leap forward in natural blue colors. It plugs many of the gaps we may have previously struggled to fill.

"Finally, a natural blue food color that can be used in nearly any food application"