Industry Focus: Animal Free Gelatine
Gelatin is a common consumer substance. It is present in cosmetics, and even food stuffs such as cakes, ice cream, yogurt, and jelly. It is important to note that even medicine capsules are made of gelatin.
Due to the rapidly increasing vegan population, most people are beginning to avoid this animal based product. This exponential growth in the vegan population is majorly due to the popular opinion that the vegan diet is healthier than an animal based one. It is also due to the increased accessibility of vegan products.
This growing vegan trend has led to the emergence of the animal free gelatin industry. Due to this, several unexpected career paths and job opportunities have emerged.
What is gelatin made of?
According to Organic Authority, gelatin is a type of protein made from animal collagen. This is extracted by the hydrolysis of animal parts such as bones, hides, ears, and skin. This hydrolysis is done by boiling. After boiling, the product is cooled. The most common animals used for the production of gelatin are cattle and pigs.
According to Doctors Health Press, gelatin has a lot of health benefits. These include helping in weight loss, reduction of joint pains, improving bone health and improving digestion.
Which are the vegetarian gelatin substitutes?
Over the years, vegetarians have come up with several substitutes for gelatin such as agar-agar, Irish Moss, and vegan jelly. However, these substitutes can’t behave in a manner identical to gelatin. They also tend to be more expensive than gelatin.
Due to these facts, the idea of animal free gelatin has been highly welcomed by the vegan community. Fortunately, according to Food navigator, two microbiology graduates from Princeton University have come up with a way to produce animal free gelatin.
Animal free gelatin versus traditional gelatin
Alexander Lorestani and Nikolay Ouzounov came up with a way to program microbes with the genes responsible for making collagen in the body. Therefore, these microbes can produce gelatin on their own.
According to Fast Company, this manufacturing process is more efficient than the traditional manufacturing process of gelatin. Rearing and slaughtering of cattle followed by hydrolysis of the animal parts takes longer and costs more than this new method which takes approximately a week.
Additionally, this new technology is not threatened by factors such as drought and famine. There is also the added advantage that the scientists can create as many variations of gelatin as they wish.
During an interview with Biotechin.Asia, the scientists stated that the gelatin they produce leaves a smaller carbon footprint than the hydrolyzed version. Effectively, the production process is made highly sustainable.
A report released by Transparency Market Research predicts that the global gelatin market will grow at a CAGR of 6.75% within the forecast period of 2012 to 2018. We can attribute this growth to increased health awareness and increasing applications of gelatin.
In this report, the market is divided into segments according to raw materials, applications, and geography. Under raw materials, the segments include bones, bovine hides, pig skin and others. The pig skin segment dominates the market with a share of 42%.
This is primarily due to the large amounts of collagen found in pigs. The bones and bovine hides together account for more than 55% of market shares. On the basis of applications, the market segments are photography, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals, food & beverages, and others.
The dominating segments are nutraceuticals and foods. We can justify this demographic by the rising demand for low fat and high protein diets by health-conscious consumers. Geographically, there exist four segments. These are North America, Asia Pacific, Europe and the Rest of the World.
As of 2011, Europe was the highest producer of gelatin while France and Germany proved to be the highest consumers. On the other hand. China is expected to grow in market shares due to improved infrastructure and government support.
Companies in this industry
- Geltor: This startup company is based in San Leandro, California. It was founded in 2015 by Alexander Lorestani and Nikolay Ouzounov. It produces animal free gelatin to be used in food, pharmaceutical, and cosmetic products. It was formerly known as Gelzen.
- PB Gelatins: This company was founded in 1880 and is a member of the Tessenderlo group. It primarily supplies gelatin to the food, pharmaceutical, and nutrition industries. This company has locations in North America, South America, Asia and Europe.
- Gelita AG: This company is located in Eberbach, Germany. It produces gelatin and has approximately 500 employees.
Job opportunities in this industry
According to a report by Grand View Research, the global gelatin market is expected to be worth $4.08 billion by 2024. Due to continuous growth in this industry, several job opportunities have been created. Here are a few:
The position of production engineer is common in the animal free gelatin industry. This job entails supporting production operations, among other duties. Viable candidates are usually expected to have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in an engineering discipline and 2 to 5 years of experience in the food manufacturing field.
The job of a controller in a gelatin production plant usually entails reporting to and collaborating with the business controller. Qualified candidates are required to have a master’s degree in business or economics.
The job of a regulatory specialist normally involves anticipating, capturing and assessing regulatory requirements. To fill this position, you should have a bachelor’s degree in engineering, business or a science field.
In order to pursue a career in this field, you will ideally need formal education in molecular biology, organic chemistry, engineering or any other science based field. It is, however, important to note that any company also requires employees in fields such as business and economics.
Here are a few university programs available for those who wish to venture into this field:
- The University of Sheffield (UK): BSc Molecular Biology and Biotechnology
- The University of Manchester (UK): BSc Molecular Biology
- Princeton University (UK): BSc Molecular Biology
- University of Birmingham (UK): MSc Molecular Biotechnology
- The University of Texas at Dallas (US): MSc Molecular and Cell Biology
- The University of Sheffield (UK): Ph.D. Molecular Biology
With only Geltor being successful in the production of animal free gelatin, this industry is still only a small portion of the global gelatin market. However, due to the exponential growth of the gelatin market and the increasing population of health-conscious consumers, this industry is assured to experience growth.
This is a new and exciting industry that will definitely be a great fit for many adventurous graduates. For updates on job opportunities in this field, feel free to subscribe to our newsletter or visit our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter.