Marine Blue Colouring Solutions in Confectionery

“Elevate the everyday” continues to be a key consumer interest now evolving to a desire for products and brands that provide powerful and emotional experiences. In today’s hyper-connected online world, experiences for some consumers gain value if they are sharable and present the ability to go viral. More than half of Chinese consumers share food and drink information on social media. This can be a visual of their own cooking, recipes, or foods they consume. In countries like South Africa or Mexico, every 3rd consumer does the same, Mintel reports in their Global Food Trends 2021. “Post-It” is a trending theme for food and drink! Being unique and/or colourful is a perfect enabler to become “share-worthy” and it creates further consumer interest. In countries like Mexico, Spain, and the US, about every 3rd consumer tried a new food or drink product that they discovered on social media.

shutterstock_1625106814The colours in nature are diverse and abundant. When it comes to food from nature, it comes in all facets of reds, oranges, yellows, or greens. Blue, however, is not commonly found. Even blueberries are not truly blue and have more of a deep purple shade coming from a natural colourant named anthocyanins. In the world of manufactured foods however, blue is a colour that certainly attracts attention. From a formulation standpoint, blue has been a historically challenging shade to achieve with natural food colours. In some confectionery products, manufacturers may still decide to reach blue colour shades via artificial colouring solutions, for example Blue #1, namely Brilliant Blue.

With the consistent global trend towards more naturalness, many manufacturers preferably opt for a natural colouring solution that is based on spirulina. Spirulina is a blue-green algae that contains a number of nutrients and is, for example, offered as a nutraceutical. For many consumers, spirulina has a “superfoods” status. Phycocyanins being the main colouring compounds in spirulina are said to have antioxidant- and anti-inflammatory properties. The usage of spirulina-based colouring solutions in the food and beverage industry perfectly meets consumers’ desire for more ingredients from natural origin.


In Europe, where the majority of confectionery launches contain non-artificial colouring, the usage of Spirulina-based colouring accounts for 21% of coloured sugar and gum confectionery launches in 2020 and the trend has been increasing, Mintel GNPD reports.


Spirulina-based food colouring can provide bright sky-blue shades, but it poses two challenges: heat stability and low-pH environments. Both parameters in combination ‘double the trouble’ and formulators would see undesired effects like poor colour stability or precipitation:

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This example demonstrates what could happen with spirulina-based colouring solutions in low pH environments: the blue turns into a more turquoise colour shade.

With Sensient’s consistent focus on delivering high-performance colouring solutions combined with innovative formulations that perfectly work in food and beverage products, the R&D team is proud to release an extension to the portfolio of Marine Blue options that are spirulina-algae based. With Sensient’s expertise in colour formulations and decades of application know-how, the newly developed Marine Blue options work perfectly in jelly sweets and hard-boiled candy with neutral pH. Think of concepts such as cool mint, fresh breeze, ice or glacier candy, and more… With excellent colouring performance and high ease of handling, these Marine Blue solutions achieve vibrant and deep blue colour shades to enable customers’ confectionery products to stand out:

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Are you interested in cloudy solutions for jelly sweets and high-boiled candies? With recent events and titanium dioxide being under scrutiny from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Commission, we welcome you to test and use solutions from our global Avalanche™ portfolio.

Sensient’s Avalanche™ MB is a mineral based alternative to titanium dioxide with enhanced stability compared to other industry options highly suitable for jelly sweets and hard candy. It is compliant in many regions across the globe, and Sensient’s regulatory team is glad to support with further guidance for specific markets to cater to customers’ individual needs. If you would like to receive further guidance and support, you can request a consult here.

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For more flexibility, Sensient’s Marine Blue can certainly be used in custom blends to cover a broader colour spectrum. Food manufacturers can equally achieve custom blues, greens, and purple shades in both transparent or cloudy form with natural solutions that can impart colour into food and beverage products.


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