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True Blue Food Dye from Red Cabbage? See the Science!

Blue is the world’s favorite color — the cool hue of sea and sky — but you won’t typically find it in nature’s food pallet. In fact, most foods that appear blue are often a shade of purple. And no color is more difficult to reproduce and replace than blue. So when our researchers set out to find a natural blue pigment, the challenge was real. 

In this 60-second video, see how our scientists at Mars Wrigley, the Mars Advanced Research Institute (MARI) and a global team of research partners discovered a natural blue beauty — in red cabbage! 

 

Color is one of the most critical properties of food. It not only influences our attraction to foods, but also our perception of flavor. It also impacts nutritional value and can give us important warning signs about food safety. And so many of our Mars products just wouldn’t be the same without their distinctive, fun colors, which are loved by so many.

We know consumers want natural ingredients in their foods, but creating a natural blue food colorant as vibrant as its artificial counterparts has puzzled food scientists for years. And because blue is also fundamental for creating other colors, like green, it couldn’t be just any blue. If the tint wasn’t spot on, it made muddy, brown colors when mixed.

That’s why for more than a decade, Mars Wrigley, MARI and a global team of researchers have been working together to tackle this natural blue dye challenge. Interestingly, the solution came from something that actually looks red — a unique pigment called anthocyanin that’s sourced from red cabbage.

The research — which made the cover of Science Advances — was built on the latest science and technology, but also on collaboration. Watch the video to learn more about this and the discovery’s potential to truly transform the way the food industry approaches natural blue colorants.

Curious to find out more about our discovery? Read these blogs by John Didzbalis, Flavor & Sensory Science Lead at MARI, and Rebecca Robbins, Senior Principal Scientist at Mars Wrigley.