Gavan introduces spirulina-derived blue colourings for drinks


Phycocyanin is a pigment-protein complex found in blue-green algae that naturally produces a blue colour

FoodTech start-up Gavan has developed a range of natural blue colourings for hot-and cold drinks via a proprietary technology.

Derived from spirulina, the blue colouring reportedly holds up under high-heat processing and in low pH, enabling full pasteurisation. The platform also allow a full spectrum of shades of blue. The formulation is suitable 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.

“Both synthetic blue dyes and plant-based blue coloring have regulatory, stability, intensity, or price challenges,” said 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.”

Delivering a heat-stable, naturally derived, vibrant blue for products with low pH is tricky, the company says. Heat treatment and shifting pH can impact the colour.

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

Phycocyanin is a pigment-protein complex found in blue-green algae that naturally produces a blue colour. The company utilises proprietary technology to extract phycocyanin from spirulina and produce a stable, natural blue colorant, it says. Blue is one of the three primary colours and therefore enables the production of other colours, anywhere from non-chlorophyll green to purple shades.

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“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,” contributes 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 revolutionize plant-based products across multiple categories.”