From postbiotics and natural preservatives to fermentation pipeline, Blue California talks about its new direction at SupplySide West 2021

For ingredients supplier Blue California, October’s SupplySide West trade show was the first time the company got to display many of its recently introduced ingredients.

For ingredients supplier Blue California (Rancho Santa Margarita, CA), October’s SupplySide West trade show was the first time the company got to display many of its recently introduced ingredients. The company has been keeping busy with ingredient innovation, and it’s all part of its new strategic direction.

“The big thing you can see around you is the rebrand of Blue California,” said David Tetzlaf, marketing director, Blue California, at SupplySide West. “And it’s not a cosmetic change. We went from a 25-year legacy company that produced botanical extracts to now focusing on ingredients that are made through bioconversion, or fermentation, through Conagen, our partner. I don’t think we’ve promoted that partnership too much, and we’re excited to promote it here.”

Fermentation Innovation

Through their partnership, Blue California and Conagen (Bedford, MA) are working to bring new nutritional and food ingredients to market. “Conagen is responsible primarily for building the strains, building the processes, and coordinating the manufacturing of all these ingredients that Blue California then commercializes,” explained J. Casey Lippmeier, PhD, Conagen’s vice president of innovation, at the show.

The fruits of their labor include hydroxytyrosol, which the companies announced this past September, as well as a nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) ingredient. Both are produced by fermentation.

The companies also offer ErgoActive L-ergothioneine, an amino acid found mainly in mushrooms, which a study1 published late last year showed helps preserve telomere length, reducing their shortening by 27%-52%, to support healthy aging. Lippemeier said the companies are the only ones to make ergothioneine through fermentation at large scale. “We’re one of the only sources making it by fermentation,” he said. “There’s another company that makes it by chemical synthesis, which is fine, but it’s more expensive and it prevents clean-label claims. We can make it cheaper, more competitively, and we can get the clean-label claims. We’re also going to be one of the most consistent suppliers because we have the largest world-scale production of ergothioneine. There's one other company that I’m aware of making it by fermentation, but they don’t have the capacity that we do, so they’re not going to be able to serve as big a market or realize the same economies of scale.”

Natural preservatives are also in the companies’ wheelhouse. This summer, the partners announced an expanded line of natural preservatives produced through fermentation, including p-Coumaric acid (PCA). They also offer a 98%-high-purity rosmarinic acid preservative.

“We’ve got a portfolio of about 30 natural preservative molecules right now that are in early stage, what we call matrix testing,” Lippmeier reported. “The matrix refers to two things: both for a beverage matrix or a food matrix—but also, an experimental matrix, literally of all these different combinations of preservatives in different concentrations.”

He continued: “It’s early-stage research, but we’re actually starting to get some combinations that are at least in the beverage matrices that we’ve tested so far able to replace benzoic acid and sorbic acid, and they perform even better, actually. So that’s really exciting. We have to confirm a lot of those results, but I would expect that in the next two or three quarters, we’ll announce those as something we’ve scaled and that we actually have an application developed for as well.” In terms of single-ingredient preservatives, the companies are already offering BC-DHQ taxifolin (good for antioxidant applications) and the previously mentioned Rosavel rosmarinic acid preservative (which is water soluble, odorless, and tasteless), hydroxytyrosol (which is heat stable), and p-Coumaric acid (which is ideal for cosmetic applications).

The company’s goal is to help formulators replace ingredients like benzoic acid and sorbic acid in beverages, or butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) in lipid-based applications, Lippmeier said.

Postbiotics

Blue California is also entering the postbiotics market with its new BeneAll ingredient, which the company calls “an innovative postbiotic-releaser for a healthy gut,” targeting the microbial metabolite butyrate.

Linda May-Zhang, PhD, Blue California’s research, science, and innovation officer, explained the benefits of BeneAll at SupplySide West. “It’s strictly a butyric acid releaser, and it’s the only ingredient that we know of that can release butyric acid without any odor. All of the others—sodium butyrate, even tributyrin—have some odor, and that’s been a limitation for consumer use as well as maintaining compliance in clinical trials.”

BeneAll is in premarket stage, she said, and the company is currently working on Generally Recognized as Safe status in the U.S. and approvals in Europe with the European Food Safety Authority. The ingredient was invented by a gastroenterologist pediatrician, she added, with initial clinical studies done in infants. “We are going to invest in an adult clinical for adult use in food and beverage and dietary supplements,” she said.

The science supporting BeneAll as a postbiotic is growing, she said. “On butyric acid alone, there’s scientific support for strengthening gut barrier function, anti-inflammatory, and increasing the gut’s natural antioxidant defense system to combat oxidative stress. There’s emerging evidence to suggest that butyric acid is good for immune health, metabolic health, and also brain and cognition, but that’s still emerging.”

She concluded: “So, we’re looking at applications in the future for BeneAll in terms of gut health and also the other exciting categories.”

Other new introductions at SupplySide West for Blue California included the company’s Sensegen division for natural and sustainable flavors, and a prototype beverage called Zenenergy containing the company’s Bestevia stevia from Sweegen, Berry Bliss flavor from Sensegen, L-TeaActive L-theanine, and ErgoActive L-ergothioneine.

Reference

  1. Samuel P et al. “Ergothioneine mitigates telomere shortening under oxidative stress conditions.” Journal of Dietary Supplements. Published online ahead of print on December 7, 2020.