A California-based startup has developed a vegan gelatin alternative in a bid to disrupt the animal-derived gelatin market.
The biotechnology company, Geltor, is programming microbes to produce collagen - from which gelatin is derived - through a fermentation process, all while avoiding animals altogether.
Gelatin is normally made from pig or fish skin, cow hide, bones, and other animal sources of collagen - and replicating the substance has been dubbed by FoodNavigator USA as 'potentially game-changing'.
The company's innovative ingredient has already garnered attention from businesses in all markets using gelatin - including pharmaceuticals and personal care.
Geltor's food scientist Amelia Chen told FoodNavigator USA about the process of developing vegan gelatin: "We're taking the genetic program to make collagen that exists in animal cells, and we are taking that and putting it into a microbe... and the microbes are grown in large fermentation tanks.
"We give them sugars and salts and oxygen, and they produce protein.
"Just the protein is purified from the broth... and the final product is pure gelatin protein, which is identical to the animal-derived product."
Chen went on to say that non-vegan gelatin 'creates a texture and bite in marshmallowws, desserts, and gummy bears that is really tough to match with plant-based alternatives'.
She explained: "This is why the experience of eating Haribo gummy bears, which are made with gelatin, is markedly different from eating Swedish Fish, which are made with modified corn starch, or Annie's fruit snacks [gummies], which are made with pectin."
The company has so far engineered the ingredient on a small scale - and is five years away from being able to produce commercial quantities for industrial-scale food industry buyers.
Geltor aims to cater to vegans, vegetarians, and kosher consumers, as well as to the halal market.