DIC produces algae?! Spirulina appears in news a lot, but what exactly it is?

Did you know that DIC makes natural plant-derived blue food coloring?


DIC supplies natural, plant-derived blue food coloring to manufacturers of a wide range of food products, including aqua-hued favorites such as frozen desserts, mint-flavored gum and candy-coated chocolate.

While there are numerous varieties of blue food coloring on the market today, DIC’s is the only one that is both 100% naturally derived and imparts vivid color, making it a safe and effective choice for edibles. Moreover, unlike synthetic alternatives DIC’s natural blue food coloring doesn’t stain the eater’s tongue blue, making it the first choice for a wide range of products. Almost all of today’s popular soda-flavored ice pops, for example, contain natural blue food coloring manufactured by DIC.

Worldwide, the trend toward using natural, rather than synthetic, colors in foods, is gaining momentum. This trend bodes well for the future of DIC’s product, which already enjoys an overwhelmingly large share of the global market.

DIC’s natural blue food coloring is made from algae

DIC’s natural blue food coloring is sold under the trade name Linablue. The latter part of the name obviously represents the color, but the first part provides a hint as to where the color comes from: the blue-green algae Spirulina (Arthrospira plantensis.)

What is Spirulina?


What sort of an organism is Spirulina? The raw material for Linablue, Spirulina, is a microscopic blue-green algae comprising filaments approximately 0.5 mm in length. Under a microscope, Spirulina appears as a mass of spirals, hence its name. Rich in more than 50 vitamins and minerals, as well as in protein and dietary fiber, Spirulina can also be easily digested. Another reason it has earned a reputation as a superfood is that it provides a balanced wealth of nutrients.

Scientists have discovered that Spirulina originated around three million years ago. Even before the nutritional value of Spirulina became commonly known, it was consumed by people who lived near lakes where it grew naturally.

DIC first recognized the potential of Spirulina in the 1970s


Spirulina’s nutritional benefits have made it popular among consumers in many countries, as has it suitability for use in, among others, green juices and green ice cream. In the United States, for example, Spirulina is so well known that health foods containing the algae are sold in supermarkets.

Having first recognized the potential and promising feature of Spirulina in the 1970s, DIC devoted many years to its cultivation, establishing a reputation as a pioneer of in the commercial production of Spirulina with safe, environment- friendly and sustainable technologies. In addition to Linablue, the DIC Group manufactures Spirulina-based nutritional supplement.

Do you know why flamingos are red?

Of course, Spirulina has many other uses besides being a raw material for Linablue and nutritional supplements, including as a nutrient-rich additive for feed used in shrimp and fish farming, as well as in the raising of livestock, that promotes better growth and health.

Spirulina also influences the color of many of the creatures that consume it. The bright red of an ornamental carp, for example, is due to the presence of Spirulina in the fish’s diet. In other words, Spirulina also contains a red pigment (beta-carotene) that enhances the color of carp. In Japan, ornamental carp grown with DIC’s Spirulina have consistently taken top honors in national competitions over the past decade.

The vibrant red plumage of wild flamingos in Africa and elsewhere is also attributed to the consumption of naturally occurring Spirulina.

The DIC Group accounts for 1/3 of the world’s Spirulina cultivation


The DIC Group cultivates approximately 1,000 tons of Spirulina annually, making it one of the world’s largest producers.

Spirulina thrives under very specific growing conditions, with water quality, water temperature and hours of daylight among many critical factors. The DIC Group currently operates large-scale Spirulina farms in two locations that it believes provide the ideal environment: Hainan Island, in the PRC, and the U.S. state of California. Both facilities have outdoor raceway ponds, each of which is the size of a soccer field.

Advanced expertise in cultivation ensures stable production with superior-quality products

The DIC Group produces several tons of Spirulina per day. Spirulina is hardy and grows rapidly, meaning that even if half of a pond’s crop is harvested the pond will have a full crop once again within a few days. The DIC Group’s knowledge and expertise enable it to maintain stable yields of high-grade Spirulina.


There are many strains of Spirulina. DIC’s Spirulina is a strain that has been proven both safe and efficacious. To maintain the premium quality of its Spirulina, the DIC Group has implemented a uniform quality control system at both of its Spirulina farms.

As a result, Spirulina produced by the DIC Group is renowned for its exceptional safety and quality, while the DIC Group has earned recognition for compliance with the most stringent quality control standards. Looking ahead, the DIC Group pledges to continue supporting the health of people everywhere by cultivating superior Spirulina.

Spirulina is also helping to combat malnutrition in famine-hit regions


The DIC Group currently provides active assistance to the Spirulina Project, an initiative aimed at alleviating hunger and improving nutrition in Africa, considered Spirulina’s mother region. The DIC Group has supplied Spirulina for humanitarian endeavors for many years. In 1991, the Group provided Spirulina for children exposed to radiation after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, while in 1993 it supplied Spirulina to hospitals in Croatia treating Bosnian refugees. In the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake, which struck northeastern Japan in March 2011, the DIC Group supplied Spirulina to people in devastated areas through the pharmacists’ associations of Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures. Going forward, DIC will continue to donate Spirulina to efforts such as these as an integral part of its CSR program.

HOME > What does DIC do? > DIC: Here, There and Everywhere > DIC produces algae?! Spirulina appears in news a lot, but what exactly it is?