Editor's note: Below Jeannette O’Brien, VP, GNT USA, offers some advice for companies looking for clean-label options for vibrant blues.

Blue is big in 2020 – and with good reason. Vibrant blues can give confectionery that all-important Instagrammable edge, while more subtle shades offer a soothing choice that is perfectly suited to these challenging times.

However, with consumer acceptance of artificial food dyes continuing to decline, using a clean-label alternative is essential. As a result, the food industry is turning increasingly to a particular species of microalgae known as spirulina. Phycocyanin, the high-value component obtained from spirulina, is the only naturally derived blue available to the food and beverage industry.

GNT is the market leader for clean-label blue food colorings, and our range of EXBERRY spirulina concentrates enables manufacturers to deliver the visual impact they want in almost any confectionery application. Here, we look at some of the formats that can be used to achieve the best technical performance across different confectionery products.

Liquids: Liquid EXBERRY blues are perfect for traditional use in gummies, aerated products such as marshmallows, and decorative sugar pastes such as fondants and icing. These high brix concentrates are easily dispersed into the base and pumpable when required. We also offer an organic blue liquid as part of our EXBERRY Organics range.

Micronized Powders:  Designed to have a smaller particle size diameter and distribution than regular powders, EXBERRY MN Powders are ideal for solid applications such as pressed tablets, chocolate and other fat-based formulations. The small particle size provides a homogenous coloring effect and maximizes the visually perceived color intensity. Since micronized powders are used in applications in a solid form, the color consistency is guaranteed in both the powder and diluted forms.  

Hard Panned: Coloring hard-panned confectionery such as chocolate lentils and pastilles can create challenges. For instance, the presence of invert sugar can inhibit sugar recrystallization and prolong the drying process, which can lead to an uneven or mottled surface. The EXBERRY HP range uses sucrose syrup as a color carrier, which ensures optimal user friendliness and avoids any issue with drying or recrystallization during the coating process. 

GNT’s full range of formats makes usage as easy as possible, but clean-label colors do still require technical knowledge. In the case of spirulina, the most important consideration is the phycocyanin’s sensitivity to heat and acid. GNT has vast experience in solving technical challenges and we offer our customers full support for their projects. Our application centers around the world are dedicated to helping companies perfect their formulations and manufacturing processes. It helps, too, that we have a pilot plant that has the capability to experiment with different solutions.

With demand for clean-label blues on the rise, we also recently doubled our spirulina processing capacity. Even during the recent disruption, we have been able to maintain a consistent, readily available supply of our products. Because of our commitment to performance, ease of use, technical support and stock stability, GNT can give manufacturers everything they need to achieve brilliant blues and make their confectionery truly shine.

For more information on why spirulina-based colors are in demand, visit: https://exberry.com/food-beverage-color-trends/trending-in-2020