ALEX LORESTANI, NICK OUZOUNOV, founders, Geltor: If you can come up with a cost-effective alternative to gelatin, there's huge potential
By Elaine Watson
- Last updated on
If you think producing gelatin from a genetically engineered micro-organism in fermentation tanks doesn’t sound like something Grandma would do; hydrolyzing collagen from animal skin, bones and connective tissues on an industrial scale isn’t exactly a food marketer’s dream either, point out the founders of Geltor (formerly Gelzen).
While manufacturers would argue that gelatin is a sustainable value-added ingredient using parts of the animal we don't generally eat, there is significant demand for a vegan alternative that can precisely replicate the unique qualities of gelatin, says Alexander Lorestani, who co-founded San Francisco-based Geltor with molecular biologist Nikolay Ouzounov in 2015.
“There are already vegan substitutes on the market [agar, agar, pectin, starches, gums],” said Lorestani, who is effectively programing microbes to produce collagen (from which gelatin is derived) via a fermentation process without using or harming animals.
“But anyone that’s tried a gummi bear made with a gelatin substitute knows they are just not the same, they don’t have the same chemical or mechanical properties.
“The gelatin market is worth close to $3bn; and it’s growing strongly in Asia, so if you can come up with a cost-effective alternative, there is massive potential.”