Animal-Free Gelatin Brand Geltor Raises $18.2 Million to Expand Vegan Gummy Production

San Leandro-based collagen protein startup Geltor has raised $18.2 million in Series A funding. The funding will help the company achieve its goal of transforming the food and snack market with commercial quantities of animal-free gelatin.

Gelatin, predominantly used in gummy sweets and desserts, is traditionally derived from animal bones, pigskin, and cattle hides. However, thanks to the completion of its latest fundraising round – led by Cultivian Sandbox Ventures and supported by ADM Ventures, Cavallo Ventures, GELITA, and Box Group – Geltor is now even closer to its goal of being able to fill the market demand for a cruelty-free gelatin by 2020.

“With a team of experienced and passionate PhD scientists behind it, and a unique, science-first approach, [Geltor] is pioneering a new industry standard for protein creation and we’re excited to be their partner on this journey,” said Dan Phillips, the managing director of Cultivian Sandbox Ventures, in a statement.

According to Lorestani, many food brands are interested in ditching animal-based gelatin from their products. However, whilst there are some vegan gummies on the market made with agar, pectin, starches, or gums, these ingredients do not provide the exact same texture as traditional gelatin.

Geltor uses a combination of biology, protein optimization, and fermentation to create its vegan collagen (essentially the uncooked version of gelatin). And according to co-founder and CEO Alexander Lorestani, the ingredient is functionally identical to animal-derived collagen.

The product is also appealing to brands, Lorestani added, because it is more sustainable than animal-based gelatin. He noted that many brands are working towards “aggressive sustainability goals,” and by creating products with collagen derived from pigs and cows, they are not stepping any closer to achieving these goals. Lorestani also noted that vegans are not the only target market for an animal-free gelatin product. Many people can’t eat traditional gelatin for religious reasons; Muslims, for example, cannot eat foods derived from pigs.

In the beauty category, where collagen is often used in products such as anti-aging skin creams, Geltor’s ingredient is already a hit. Earlier this year, the company even won the 2018 CEW Beauty “Innovation of the Year” Award.

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