Animal-free ingredients: Geltor’s fermented tech “brings collagens to the table for vegans”
04 Aug 2020 --- The expanding demand for collagen alongside the global plant-based movement is prompting innovation surrounding vegan alternatives to this animal-derived protein. FoodIngredientsFirst speaks to bio-design start-up Geltor about the current market dynamics driving up consumer appetite for animal-free collagens, which the company produces using its unique fermentation technology. The California-based specialist recently closed a US$91.3 million Series B financing round, backed by notable ingredient technology players including Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) and Gelita.
“For food and beverage formulations, collagens have never been on the table for vegans, so that’s a significant segment of the market that was simply never going to be able to access this type of protein without a biodesigned solution like ours. We only see the demand for quality, effective animal-free ingredients growing into the future,” Erin Kim, Communications Director at Geltor explains, although the company cannot yet detail specific F&B applications.
Over the past year, Geltor highlights that global demand for collagen grew by 25 percent. The company observed robust sales for its first products, including the animal-free collagens HumaColl21 and Collume. Despite African swine fever and COVID-19 disrupting industrial supply chains, the company remarks that it has been able to scale its fermentation-based technology platform “up 100 times” while producing hundreds of new proteins to help customers “seamlessly turn an idea into a highly effective ingredient quickly and with minimal risk.”
“Consumers are increasingly uncomfortable with the knowledge that any of the ingredients in the products they use every day, let alone traditional collagens, are sourced from unsustainable animal sources,” says Kim. “This was a shift we saw on the horizon at the moment Geltor was founded and it’s continued to be validated year after year.”
“Our customers are aware of this and they’re eager to adopt the kinds of innovative solutions we provide, while going the extra step of improving the quality and effectiveness of their product formulations. Our technology allows them to make that choice easily, quickly and without risk,” she adds.
Indeed, Innova Market Insights’ “Plant-Based Revolution,” pegged as this year’s Top Trend, evidently continues to flourish as a result of consumer interest in health, sustainability and ethics, which ties into the broader consumer lifestyle trend toward cleaner living.
US$91.3m investment funds Geltor’s animal-free biodesign
Commenting on Geltor’s fermentation process used in the manufacturing of non-animal collagens, Kim explains, “We use a sustainable, completely animal-free biodesign and manufacturing process in which we identify a particular protein or bioactive ingredient found anywhere across the tree of life (as in, originating in a plant or animal found in nature).”
“We’re able to produce that specific ingredient in isolation through closed fermentation, using only plant-based inputs. We then provide those ingredients to CPG brands and manufacturers to include in their product formulations,” she further details.
Geltor’s recent US$91.3 million funding round aims to boost the company’s ability to meet burgeoning demand from global CPG companies. The Series B brings the total funding raised for Geltor to US$116.3 million to date. The round was led by future protein pioneer UK-based CPT Capital, with significant commitment from Taiwan-based WTT Investment.
Returning investors in this financing include Cultivian Sandbox, SOSV and iSelect Fund, along with the investment arms of global ingredient technology companies Gelita and ADM. New investors include Blue Horizon Ventures, RIT Capital Partners, Humboldt Fund and Pegasus Tech Ventures.
“Our goal is to make it ridiculously easy for iconic brands to build sustainable products. This next stage of growth will allow Geltor to meet the moment our world is facing, as businesses recognize the urgent need to transition to a sustainable protein supply chain,” says Geltor CEO and Co-Founder Alex Lorestani.
“We're grateful to have investors who see Geltor as an index of this important shift to a system powered by fermentation and plant-based platforms like ours. As a scientist, I'm convinced that the highest-impact action I can take to support human and planetary health is making our Ingredients-as-a-Service platform better every single day,” he concludes.
Calling for collagen
As the market for plant-based products evolves, relevant solutions continue to proliferate. In a recent interview with FoodIngredientsFirst, Synergy Flavours’ Category Manager Chris Whiting predicted that the next wave of plant proteins will include bases such as collagen, alongside sunflower and quinoa.
Collagen and lactose-free A2/A2 dairy proteins are new features of Re:THINK Ice Cream’s “tummy-friendly” products, as the company reconsidered both its formulation and branding in light of its two year anniversary. The new iteration is touted as the first and only dairy ice cream completely free from lactose and A1 protein, both of which may lead to digestive discomfort in millions of consumers who respond adversely to dairy.
Fermented collagen has meanwhile been pegged as “the key to increased bioavailability,” according to US-based supplement brand Ancient Nutrition, which has recently released four new encapsulated versions of its Multi Collagen Protein Powder for the nutrition sector.
By Benjamin Ferrer
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