Press Centre

Nutritional algae helps Asda go natural

IT’S a microscopic blue-green algae and has been around for millions of years – but now spirulina is the hero of ASDA’s new natural baking range.

The fresh water algae has come to the rescue of the company’s chefs, who were looking for a natural source to create bottles of blue food colouring.

Spirulina – renowned for its nutritional properties and said to be one of the world’s best superfoods – was chosen after months of research.

It will be the star of the shelves when ASDA becomes the first supermarket to introduce its own all-natural baking range later this month. The revolutionary range is entirely free of artificial colours and flavours – bringing it into line with all ASDA’s food and drink products which are also artificial colour and flavour free.

Instead plant extracts and other natural sources have been used to create the baking products – right down to the spirulina algae that’s going into the bottles of blue food colouring.

“No other supermarket has its own label range of colours and flavourings – and certainly none has a range made solely from natural ingredients,” said Katie Robertson, of ASDA’s baking team.

“Parents were telling us they didn’t want artificial ingredients. They wanted a simple baking range that they could put their trust in and encourage their kids to bake while knowing the products they were using were natural.

“Whilst we are using the spirulina to create a perfect blue food colouring, the fact that it’s packed with protein and other vitamins should reassure customers that we’re focusing on quality, natural ingredients.”

The new baking range has been a year in the making, with significant product testing to ensure each item met strict quality controls.

For example, achieving a consistent red food colouring without artificial assistance initially proved difficult. In the end, a balance of paprika and curcumin helped achieve the required results. Pink colouring includes beetroot extract, while yellow has turmeric root.

The most difficult food colour to create naturally was the blue, which is where spirulina was eventually chosen.

Recent figures from ASDA show home baking is on the rise, as cash-strapped families look for cheaper ways to cook up a treat. Sales of baking utensils and core ingredients, such as yeast and flour, are all on the up.

The figures support earlier predictions that the British home baking market will grow by 28% to reach almost £550million by 2011. *

ASDA’s new natural baking range, which will be launched from September 29, includes 13 food colours and flavourings, sprinkles, sugar balls, piping and writing icing. In addition, a selection of fun decorations are available for young bakers – with Little Hero products for boys and Little Princess for girls.

Prices in the range start at 52p for the natural food colouring and 60p for sprinkle decorations.

Posted in Press Centre on 23 September 2008