Provenance Bio, a San Francisco-based alternative proteins company, announced this week that it has made animal-free gelatin using their proprietary protein expression platform. The gelatin is designed to be identical to traditionally sourced animal gelatin, while using no animal inputs.
Traditionally, gelatin is made from collagens extracted from cattle or pig hides and bones. Gelatin is used in a wide array of consumer goods such as in capsules for vitamins and therapeutics, as an ingredient in foods for imparting texture, and as a key component used in tissue engineering.
Provenance Bio is focused on producing animal-free gelatin to address issues in the market such as inconsistencies in quality and to make products devoid of contaminants. Provenance Bio also makes its gelatin from collagen, which is produced in their microbial platform. For its recombinant gelatin products, Provenance currently uses full-length, type I collagen, the most abundant form of collagen in mammals but produced in a clean laboratory setting. Provenance gelatins promise to have the same functional attributes as those derived from animal collagens but with a radically reduced environmental footprint.
“Gelatin represents a large and growing market. We were inspired to make an animal-free gelatin to provide a sustainable and humane solution for this material, while solving major concerns with animal derived gelatins that suffer from animal-borne illness, batch-to-batch variability, and price fluctuations. Provenance collagens, which are entirely animal-free, also support the growing demand for vegan alternatives to gelatin products with superior performance,” said Provenance Bio CEO Michalyn Andrews.
In addition to full length bovine collagens, Provenance is utilizing a library of collagen variants for tailored applications.
“We are excited about all the possible industrial applications of Provenance gelatins, as well as other proteins. The platform will produce animal-free gelatin at attractive price points. When we began our work at Provenance, there was no way to make the proteins we needed at scale,” she said. “We took it upon ourselves to redesign a new chassis for protein production that would revolutionize our ability to deliver functional proteins at price parity with those sourced from animals. While we still have a road ahead of us, to date, we’ve been able to increase our own collagen strain efficiencies by 100x.”
Recombinant collagen as a sustainable solution for animal products has been out of reach to date due to the historic challenge of producing these functional proteins. Access to biomimetic collagens with zero animal inputs, at price parity with current animal products, will enable its wider adoption across all relevant sectors.
Andrews continued: “Gelatin is just the first of many animal products we’re disrupting at Provenance. Full-length proteins are important for the markets we’re working to disrupt. We want our gelatin to be a seamless plug-and-play product for corporations ready to make their supply chains more sustainable. Today our collagen products have 1/50th the carbon footprint of bovine collagen products. By year end, we expect to cut that number by 90%, making our products over 500 times more carbon efficient than collagens and related products sourced from cattle.”
By partnering with large corporations for product rollout, Provenance intends to move quickly as an impact-focused organization, furthering the mission of transitioning large global supply chains for sustainable solutions.