Industry innovation targets gelatine alternatives

26 Oct 2018

Many alternatives to animal-derived gelatine already exist, although none is a perfect replacement. Now, rising interest in vegetarian ingredients has led to a new wave of innovation in the sector.

Industry innovation targets gelatine alternatives

Gelatine is made from the skin, bones and connective tissues of cattle, chicken, pigs and fish, and is commonly used in gummy confectionery, marshmallows, gelled desserts, as well as in some dips, yoghurts and ice cream. It is prized for its neutral taste and emulsifying, binding, gelling and stabilising advantages in a wide range of foods. However, rising demand for vegetarian and vegan foods has increased interest in animal-free alternatives.

Agar-agar, starches, pectin and other gums are among those already available, but ingredient suppliers have become increasingly creative. US-based Puris, for example, has introduced an alternative to both gelatine and pectin for gummies based on pea starch. It recently partnered with Cargill to ramp up production of its core pea protein ingredient, and the starch is a by-product of that process. While other starches may mute flavours, the company says its new ingredient has flavour enhancing properties, which could be of interest for manufacturers of gummies, for both confectionery and supplements.

Many gelatine manufacturers would argue that gelatine is a sustainable, value-added ingredient using parts of animals that would otherwise go to waste, and the global gelatine industry continues to grow rapidly.

However, much of the growth in gelatine comes from developing markets, and is also driven by increased wealth in countries like India and China, where concern about animal-derived ingredients tends to be lower. Meanwhile, in more mature markets, an increasing number of consumers is looking for animal-free alternatives, according to market research firm Global Industry Analysts. GIA predicts a slowdown in demand in European and North American markets for gelatine as a result.

Yet in general, many plant-based alternatives suffer from functional drawbacks, such as excessive stickiness associated with pectin in some applications, and the possibility of an unpleasant texture in products that use starches at high levels. Gelatine is also unique in its ability to stabilise foams, which is particularly useful in many confectionery products and desserts.

US-based start-up Geltor claims to have skirted these problems by developing a gelatine ingredient using microbial fermentation to produce collagen, from which gelatine is derived. The resulting ingredient is vegan and precisely replicates the functional properties of the animal sourced equivalent. The company still has some regulatory and practical hurdles to overcome before the product will be available to the food industry, but it claims that it will be able to deliver significant quantities within a few years.

It is not just a small number of vegan consumers looking for alternatives to traditional gelatine; many companies are interested in switching to products that are kosher and halal, and some consider that substituting gelatine for a vegetarian alternative could be more in line with the clean label demands of certain consumers.

Related news

Stevia outpaces aspartame in new product launches

Stevia outpaces aspartame in new product launches

27 Nov 2018

The number of new stevia-sweetened foods and drinks overtook new products with aspartame in 2017, according to global data from Innova Market Insights.

Read more 
Nuts gain from awareness of healthy fats

Nuts gain from awareness of healthy fats

19 Nov 2018

Demand for products containing nuts is on the rise, aided by ongoing research into their health benefits and growing consumer understanding of healthy fats.

Read more 
Cranberries show promise for improved gut health

Cranberries show promise for improved gut health

19 Nov 2018

Researchers are just beginning to understand the link between the gut and many chronic health conditions, leading to growing interest in prebiotic ingredients. According to a new study, cranberries are the latest food to show prebiotic potential.

Read more 
Egg substitutes driven by vegan, allergen-free demand

Egg substitutes driven by vegan, allergen-free demand

13 Nov 2018

Egg replacers have long been used as a way to avoid to the price fluctuations often associated with real eggs, but recently interest has been driven by manufacturer demand for clean label and plant-based ingredients, allowing companies to make more veg...

Read more 
Whey protein on the rise across food categories

Whey protein on the rise across food categories

13 Nov 2018

Whey protein remains the most popular protein ingredient for athletes by far, but numerous whey protein ingredients have emerged over the past few years, in applications that take it well beyond sports nutrition.

Read more 
Could regulation tempt the industry to renew focus on low fat foods?

Could regulation tempt the industry to renew focus on low fat foods?

7 Nov 2018

The UK government aims to cut calories by 20% by 2024 in a range of popular foods, potentially shifting focus back onto foods’ fat content as companies strive to reach this target.

Read more 
Allergen-free foods gain momentum

Allergen-free foods gain momentum

5 Nov 2018

Launches of allergen-free foods have increased in recent years – and not just because of increased prevalence of food allergy.

Read more 
Enzyme technology slashes sugar in fruit juice

Enzyme technology slashes sugar in fruit juice

2 Nov 2018

Israeli researchers have developed a new technology to cut sugar by up to 80% in fruit juice, by using enzymes that boost the fibre content at the same time.

Read more 
What can blockchain do for the food industry?

What can blockchain do for the food industry?

1 Nov 2018

International food companies have started to embrace blockchain technology to help trace food and ingredients all along the supply chain. What are the potential benefits for the industry?

Read more 
The mainstreaming of meat alternatives

The mainstreaming of meat alternatives

26 Oct 2018

Tofu and lentils still have their place in a vegetarian diet, but a new generation of meat alternatives makes it easier than ever for consumers to switch to plant-based options – even the most enthusiastic meat eaters.

Read more