Japanese, US firms team up to develop natural dyes for foods and cosmetics

Robert Stockdill

Robert Stockdill

Tech companies from Japan and Silicon Valley have teamed up to speed the development of natural dyes for food colourants and cosmetics.

With growing consumer demand for biodegradable, naturally derived colourants – especially in foods and cosmetics – to replace synthetic petroleum-derived colourants, the race is on among major global brands to identify more sustainable materials for their products.

Low yields, excessive waste from the extraction process and environmental problems such as too much land and water use in the process, have hampered research to date.

Now, Tokyo-listed DIC Corporation has entered into a research development agreement with California-based biotech startup Debut Biotechnology. The two companies will work together to combine Debut’s advanced knowledge of enzyme reactions and process design with DIC’s scale-up technology, quality control, and product development capabilities. Together they will develop and commercialise new sustainable, high-value-added bio-based colourants, pigments, and healthy foods for global markets. 

“With our advanced cell-free biomanufacturing platform, we’re able to produce colour ingredients that are simply not possible with traditional fermentation-based biomanufacturing,” said Debut CEO Joshua Britton. 

“Our colours are naturally derived with a fraction of the inputs – less waste and energy – and without the use of petrochemicals. 

“With this approach, we’re able to take on a level of complexity that creates whole new possibilities for the colour ingredient landscape across industries,” said Britton.

Debut says its proprietary next-generation continuous cell-free biomanufacturing technology overcomes traditional biomanufacturing barriers – retaining enzymes and other useful parts of cells, while discarding limiting parts. 

Main image: @shanti via Twenty20

Robert Stockdill

Robert Stockdill

Robert Stockdill is a content writer with more than 30 years of experience in five countries. His style has built upon award-winning success in news and features in the print media to leadership in digital communication, spanning news websites, social media, magazines, brochures, and contributing to books. Recognising the devastating impact of consumer behaviour on the planet and wanting to help make a difference Robert launched Viable.Earth as a platform to celebrate positive contributions by brands, companies and individuals towards reducing environmental impact and improve sustainability – especially in the fields of fashion, beauty, food, lifestyle, and transportation.


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