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Price-comparable, natural flavors driving Blue Marble Biomaterials growth

By Stephen Daniells , 16-Oct-2012
Last updated on 16-Oct-2012 at 16:36 GMT

The company uses spent coffee grains to produce flavors and fragrances
The company uses spent coffee grains to produce flavors and fragrances

Montana-based Blue Marble Biomaterials is challenging the perception that a natural tag means more expensive, with its all-natural flavor ingredients listed as price comparable with their synthetic equivalents.

The company takes other companies’ by-products such as beer mash, coffee and forestry residue and ferments them using proprietary bacterial consortia to generate a range of flavors, fragrances and ingredients for personal care products.

Speaking with FoodNavigator-USA, Colby Underwood, co-CEO of Blue Marble, said price parity with synthetic flavors makes it “as easy as possible for our customers to switch to our products.

“On top of that, we can provide much greater pricing clarification [than synthetics, which are dependent on the price of oil]. We have a longer term feedstock price. We have 12 month guaranteed pricing for some of our customers.”

For flavors, Underwood said that Blue Marble could make between 90 and 95% of all flavors currently available.

While the company’s bacterial consortia are proprietary, Blue Marble does have patents on its processes in over 15 countries.

The extraction process...

Blue Marble obtains byproducts from a range of sources, including food by-products, spent brewery grain, algae, and corn silage. The company’s AGATE (Acid, Gas, and Ammonia Targeted Extraction) fermentation technology employs non-genetically modified bacteria to produce target compounds

According to the company, “polyculture fermentation links several kinds of bacteria in a production chain to breakdown plant material. This living ecosystem of bacteria symbiotically works together to produce a broad portfolio of targeted compounds”.

By linking the different bacteria species together, the company can produce a range of chemicals, including carboxylic acids, esters, mercaptains / thiols, and terpenes.

The industry response to the natural flavors has been “great”, said Underwood, and the company has a confident plan for the future. “We want to be as big as Dow Chemicals,” he said. “It will take years and decades to get there, but we can do it.”

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