Oterra, Ecoflora ‘complete the full spectrum of natural colors’ with FDA approval of Jagua Blue

By Ryan Daily

- Last updated on GMT

© Oterra
© Oterra

Related tags blue colouring Natural colors regenerative agriculture

FDA has approved the use of Oterra's and Ecoflora's natural blue color created from the fruit of Colombian jagua trees for use in foods and beverages, Nicolás Cock Duque, executive chair for Ecoflora, told FoodNavigator-USA.

“Acid-stable blue was the only color that was missing to complete the full spectrum of natural colors," Duque said. "Having this milestone cleared will enable us to access the world's largest market in food and beverages for natural colors."  

A 15-year journey to bring natural blue to the market

The two companies started to work together 15 years ago to bring a natural blue color to the market, and ten years ago the companies started the process of FDA approval, Duque said. The ingredient will also launch in Mexico and Brazil, while the companies look for other opportunities, including India. 

The ingredient is one of only a few FDA-approved natural colors on the market and is one of the only natural blue colors on the market. In 2021, the FDA approved Sensient Technologies'​ natural blue food color for an ingredient created from butterfly pea flower. 

“There's been more spaceship travels to the moon than natural colors being approved by the FDA,” Duque said. “There's been very few, maybe three or four, in the last 20 or 30 years.” 

Unlike other natural colors, Jagua Blue is “more stable than FDA Blue No. 2” and synthetic alternatives, based on research into the ingredient's effectiveness, Duque said. Food manufacturers not only can use it to create blue-colored products but it can also be mixed to make new colors and shades. 

“It's very important not only for being blue but because of its of being a primary color, which is instrumental to make new shades and hues of colors that were not possible before for the industry, multiple applications, greens, purples, [and] browns.” 

Given its stability, Jagua Blue can be used in snacks, confections, dairy beverages, pudding, gelatins, icing for bakery, and other applications, Luc Ganivet, chief innovation office at Oterra, told FoodNavigator-USA said.

“Given its high color concentration and its robustness towards heat, light, and acidity, Jagua Blue is an easy-to-use, cost-effective natural blue,” Luc shared in a press release. 

Supporting regenerative agriculture, sustainability practices

Jagua Blue also provides a way for food manufacturers and CPG companies to boost sustainability and achieve their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals, Luc and Duque both noted. Ecoflora Cares is a Certified B Company and member of the Union for Ethical Biotrade and works to improve the lives of farmers and the local ecosystem, Duque said. 

Ecoflora has worked with small farmers, cattle ranchers, and indigenous communities to plant 100,000 jagua ​trees and "are improving the land use and not doing an extractivist approach," Duque said. The company has also created financial incentives for growers to adopt regenerative agriculture practices and promote biodiversity, he added. 

“We have been working with farmers; many of [them] used to be deforestation agents, and many of [them] were also victims of the armed conflict,” Duque said. “The theory of change ... is that if we give these people opportunities to improve their livelihoods and to restore ecosystems, they can do it amazingly, and we have stopped deforestation in many different areas through this approach.” 

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