arthrise Nutritionals, a wholly owned subsidiary of Tokyo, Japan’s DIC Corporation, is on schedule to complete construction in August, 2015, of a new extraction plant for Linablue® Spirulina-derived natural blue food coloring. Construction began in May 2014.
After commissioning, commercial production is expected to begin in September. A state-of-the-art facility in Irvine, California, the new plant also complies with the state of California’s safety, quality, and environmental regulations, said to be the strictest in existence. According to the DIC Group, the new facility will allow the company to guarantee the world’s largest and most stable supply of the highest-grade Spirulina natural blue food coloring.
Linablue® vivid blue food coloring is made from phycocyanin, a blue colorant extracted from Spirulina. In 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the use of phycocyanin as a natural colorant in food and beverage products. Since then, demand has risen dramatically, particularly in the Americas and Europe, which have seen a rapid shift in consumer demand for natural food colorings.
Shipments of Linablue® used for coloring frozen sweets, gum, candy-coated chocolate and other confections, have kept the extraction plant at the Group’s Spirulina farm on Hainan Island, in the People’s Republic of China, operating at full capacity. The rapid global shift toward natural blue food coloring, rather than synthetic, prompted DIC to build the new $10 million extraction plant. Building in the United States enables the company to establish a two-pronged global production configuration.
DIC estimates that the global market for natural blue food coloring will double between now and 2018, by which time it also expects the DIC Group’s share of this market to expand to 50%, from 20% at present. The DIC Group’s share of the global market for Spirulina-derived natural blue food coloring is currently 90%-plus, and they estimate this market will expand between seven and 10 times its present size by 2018.
The state-of-the-art facility has a production capacity several times that of the Hainan Island farm’s extraction plant. The integrated production facility’s capabilities range from the cultivation of high-grade Spirulina through to refining and manufacturing finished products, with traceability to ensure the safety and quality of the products. DIC Group Spirulina products are certified Halal and Kosher. The Group is also in the process of obtaining Food Safety System Certification (FSSC) 22000.
Earthrise Nutritionals produces approximately 500 tons of Spirulina annually. The company’s outdoor algae cultivation facility, which covers a total area of 180,000 square meters, is the world’s largest.