- Cultured protein developer Geltor proved that animal-free collagen can be manufactured at commercial scale. The company announced it completed a five-month, commercial-scale manufacturing run of its PrimaColl ingredient in partnership with Arxada, a global specialty chemicals business that was formerly part of Lonza Group.
- The partnership with Arxada increased Geltor's fermentation production capacity from tens of thousands of liters to millions of liters in just two years. An email from Geltor indicated that the company has a positive relationship with the Arxada team and is evaluating the best path for future production.
- The biodesigned PrimaColl ingredient, chemically identical to poultry collagen, also matches Type 21 collagen, which is naturally found in the human body. It's one of a handful of new traditionally animal-derived ingredients — like dairy and egg — to be created through precision fermentation.
When Geltor announced the full development of PrimaColl, the biodesigned protein maker heralded the development of a potentially game-changing ingredient. Animal-free collagen can be consumed by those who have dietary and religious reasons to avoid products with traditionally sourced collagen, which often comes from pigs. PrimaColl also is more potent and pure than collagen sourced from animals, Geltor has said.
Now, Geltor is heralding the true possibilities that the ingredient holds. Because while it is one thing for a company to use technology create an ingredient with great potential, that ingredient can't really do much unless it is produced at scale. This partnership with Arxada showed that Geltor can get PrimaColl there through working with the right entity.
Geltor CEO and co-founder Alex Lorestani was enthusiastic in a written statement about the possibility of a biodesigned ingredient like PrimaColl being more readily available.
“Our team has been steadily scaling up our technology and manufacturing capabilities since our first proof of concept in 2016, and we’ve only begun scratching the surface of possibilities with biodesign enabling the greater availability of new materials," Lorestani said. "The commercial availability of PrimaColl signals that it’s no longer a pipe dream, but a reality, that consumers can expect to see biodesigned ingredients on shelves in their favorite products.”
Geltor has been working toward creating optimized versions of animal-derived proteins through precision fermentation throughout its existence. As collagen was getting to be a sought-after ingredient in a variety of food and beverages, Geltor raised $91.3 million in a Series B round in 2020. In the recent past, the company has been doing more than just working with Arxada on the commercial production of PrimaColl. Geltor's portfolio also includes three proteins designed for skincare, and the company said in this latest announcement that it plans to introduce several more biodesigned ingredients this year.
A partnership like the one between Geltor and Arxada is not uncommon. In fact, it's largely necessary. The precision fermentation companies that are currently successful in the food and beverage space all have similar partnerships with larger companies with deeper experience in fermentation. Animal-free dairy company Perfect Day has been able to scale up to a point where its proteins are appearing in several products through a manufacturing agreement with Archer Daniels Midland. Similarly, The Every Company (formerly known as Clara Foods), which uses precision fermentation to make pepsin and proteins found in egg whites, has a development and distribution agreement with Ingredion. The Every Company is also working with AB InBev's venture and innovation arm ZX Ventures on ways to scale up precision fermentation.
Someday, companies like Geltor may have several fermentation facilities of their own. But while those are expensive to design and build, partnerships like this one with Arxada are vital to companies getting those ingredients on the market. This kind of partnership also does a great deal to make those company-owned manufacturing facilities a reality. With a production partnership, companies can get their ingredients on the market quickly — meaning a quicker path to profitability and a product to show investors to convince them to put funds toward helping build those facilities.