Most folks are probably familiar with gelatin from making Jell-O as a kid. (It’s fun!) But gelatin is an ingredient actually used to make a variety of food products such as certain candies, yogurts, cream cheese and even wine. The process of making gelatin is definitely not vegan, as it requires the boiling of skin, cartilage and bones of animals. (Not as much fun!)
Jellatech, a startup that just came out of stealth last week, is looking to change that by creating animal-free, cell culture-based gelatin and collagen. In other words, the company grows gelatin, slaughter-free, in a bioreactor (hat tip to CellAgri). Jellatech says that because the company designs, grows and purifies gelatin in the same place, it can better ensure quality, purity and sustainability.
In a world where companies are using labs to create cell-based beef, cell-based chicken and cell-based fish, creating cell-based gelatin seems like a no-brainer.
The knock on those cell-based meats, however, has been whether they will ever reach a big enough scale to bring the cost down enough to make it viable (though others disagree). Additionally, there are regulatory issues and potentially public perception problems around eating “lab-grown” facsimiles of the “real” thing.
In this regard then, Jellatech’s decision to go after an ingredient like gelatin seems like a smart play (Geltor is basically doing the same thing). While it will still have regulatory issues to overcome, it’s not a standalone item that people will eat. Instead, it would be an unsung ingredient that goes into other, presumably more delicious products like gummi bears.
Jellatech has already made a proof-of-concept jelly made from cell-based marine collagen that was processed into gelatin. The company expects it will be 18 months before its first commercial-grade product is available.