FoodTech start-up Gavan, Ltd. is beating the blue colorant blues by creating a wide array of natural blue colorings for hot and cold drinks via a proprietary technology. Gavan developed an innovative method for extracting an entirely natural, pure blue that delivers high performance and high stability.
Derived from spirulina, this new natural blue holds up under high-heat processing and in low pH, enabling full pasteurization. The platform allows for a full spectrum of stable shades of blue. The new coloring formulation is ideal 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.
The Blue Challenge
Vivid blue foods and beverages are eye-catching and exciting. However, consumers increasingly wish to avoid the artificial additives that create the vivid colors. Finding an all-around solution to the natural blue problem has been an undeniable challenge. “Both synthetic blue dyes and plant-based blue coloring have regulatory, stability, intensity, or price challenges,” explains Yael Leader, head of product for Gavan. “The main barrier to creating food formulations with natural colors is stability—the ability to overcome formulation challenges and ensure vibrant and consistent true blue throughout the product’s shelf life.”
The “blue challenge” is even more evident in beverages. Delivering a heat-stable, naturally derived, vibrant blue for products with low pH is tricky. Any heat treatment might impact the color irreversibly, and any shift in the pH can impair the color stability and influence the blue color’s shade.
“A growing trend in beverages is fortified drinks with high amount of vitamins and minerals,” adds 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.”
Getting the Blues
Phycocyanin is a pigment-protein complex found in blue-green algae that naturally produces a beautiful pure blue. Gavan utilizes its innovative technology to extract phycocyanin from spirulina and produce a stable, natural blue colorant. Blue is one of the three primary colors and as such, it opens a window to producing other high-in-demand colors—anywhere from non-chlorophyll green to purple shades. These varieties also are highly stable and vivid.
Gavan’s non-GMO technology extracts and optimizes the colorant gently, without damaging the source, and enables the extraction of multiple compounds from the whole spirulina, without waste. The technology protects the colorant from fading, even at pH as low as 3.0 or when pasteurized at 90°C for 30 seconds. In addition, the platform’s control over particle size offers improved stability throughout the final product’s shelf life.
“Gavan’s proprietary technology enables us to transform spirulina or other plant-based compounds and sources into easy-to-use, water-dispersible food colorings suitable for hot and cold beverages,” contributes Itai Cohen, CEO and Co-founder of Gavan. “Gavan’s blue can replace artificial coloring and opens options for acidic beverages to be colored with any blue shades. It has no impact on flavor, and maintains a clear, clean label. Our advanced platform can revolutionize plant-based products across multiple categories.”
Gavan’s team of interdisciplinary experts developed ecofriendly technology that can protect the natural compounds in spirulina and other plants while maintaining their complex functionality and purity. The company’s experts are driven by a deep-rooted commitment to unlock botanical resources to create bioactive ingredients. Longtime collaborators Uri Jeremias, a veteran of the restaurant industry who brought his groundbreaking culinary knowledge and passion to the ingredient industry, and Allen Hazan, with rich experience in designing processes and products, were inspired to create the new technology after meeting with Itai Cohen, a serial entrepreneur with passion for sustainability and Baruch Dach, a marine biotechnologist and inventor. The new perfect blue was the brainchild of their inventive synergy, leading them to form Gavan in 2020. Gavan recently acquired funding from the prestigious angel investment firm of Dark Boot Investments, Ltd. and is set for scale-up this year.