In the past, the enzyme pepsin has always been obtained from pig stomachs, but now Clara Foods has developed a variety that’s completely animal-free. The pepsin will soon be available globally for commercial use, distributed by Ingredion.
Pepsin is widely used in supplements, foods, and medications, as well as several other industries. But the existing pepsin supply chain is rife with issues such as swine flu outbreaks, the resulting factory shutdowns, and rapid price changes. The industry is also extremely unsustainable, with over 100 pigs required to produce just a kilogram of pepsin.
Due to this volatility, Clara Foods’ animal-free pepsin has the potential to significantly disrupt the market. It’s made using similar technology to that used to produce insulin for diabetics — or heme iron for plant-based foods such as the Beyond Burger. That means it can be manufactured without constant shortages and price swings, and it’s also vegan, Kosher, and Halal.
While pepsin has a range of applications, its potential use in pharmaceuticals is perhaps the most exciting, especially since there are growing concerns that vegans may avoid taking medications with animal ingredients.
Other companies such as XCellR8 and LIALT are working on animal-free methods of carrying out safety tests, meaning that future pharmaceuticals could potentially be entirely cruelty-free.
Clara Foods also plans to develop vegan versions of various other animal proteins, and it’s set to launch chicken-free egg whites by the end of the year.
“Pepsin was the first enzyme to be discovered, and it’s an honor that after 200 years, we can now introduce the world’s first pepsin — made completely animal-free,” said Arturo Elizondo, CEO and co-founder of Clara Foods. “We’ve been knee-deep in R&D for the last six years building out our technology platform, scaling up, and expanding our product portfolio. Pepsin represents the first of several products coming online, and I could not be more excited. We are creating Food 2.0 and using it to upgrade the food industry, and we’re thrilled to share our breakthrough technology with companies large and small on a global scale.”