Finnish scientists coax higher pigment yields from birch


In Finland, the VTT Technical Research Centre has successfully produced useful compounds from birch leaves and seeds, including anthocyanin pigments that inhibit the growth of harmful microbes in cosmetics applications.

Riitta Puupponen-Pimia, principle scientist at VTT, tells that anthocyanin pigments are red polyphenols that have not been “traditionally associated with birch.” Applying biotechnology helped improve consistency of quality and yield.

Birch cell cultures have also been used to produce fatty acids such as linoleic acid and alpha-linoleic acids—both used in personal care products to improve skin moisture and elasticity—and yellow carotenoids.

VTT’s efforts fell under the center’s Innovative Business from Emerging Technologies Programme.