Gelatin. It’s hidden in much more than the marshmallow and gummy candies we loved as children (and, ahem, as adults?). It’s also a pervasive ingredient in pharmaceutical and personal care products. This wouldn’t be much of a problem, were it not for the product’s origins.

Add to that the recent collagen craze that has health seekers adding gelatin powder to coffee, smoothies, and juices all in the quest for beauty– never mind the fact that gelatin is anything but beautiful. While gelatin makes many people think of soft, and pleasantly squishy things, the reality is that gelatin is little more than acid-dipped pig, cow, fish, or even horse bones.

Enter: Geltor, a startup innovator making real gelatin, only without the animal innards. Geltor wants people to enjoy gummy-type products and the benefits of collagen without the need to breed and slaughter animals, then scavenge them for parts. Instead, Geltor programs microbes, which then produce collagen. This collagen then goes through a fermentation process which turns it into gelatin.

Gelatin-Free Vegan Collagen is Going to Take the Bones Out of Your Gummy Bears

This all goes down in Geltor’s California-based facility. The goal, in the long run, is to make the production of alternative gelatin cheaper so that industry’s across the board can adopt it. Ultimately, it’s the taste and texture that people are looking for, not the fact that it comes from animal bones.

While there’s not much competition out there right now — with few alternatives like pectin, agar, and guar gum out there already — the real challenge is mass producing it. The CEO and founder, Alex Lorestani, says the company is about five years away from mass production. However, the company founders also added that they already have a long wait list of potential buyers.

Geltor’s product could be a huge gamechanger, offering an animal-free alternative where, not so long ago, there wasn’t one. With the gelatin market valued at around $3 billion and the demand for vegan alternatives on the rise, all over the world, this is a large piece of many industries (that often goes unnoticed).

Gummy bears, specifically, are a hard candy to mimic. But Geltor might just be the vegan company to crack the code.

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