Clara Foods has unveiled the first animal-free pepsin for commercial use, the company said in a statement. Ingredion, its market partner for North America, will distribute the product globally.
The pepsin also is antibiotic- and hormone-free, along with being vegan, kosher and halal. This makes it suitable for a range of dietary restrictions. While it has the same functionality as animal-derived pepsin, Clara Foods said its product offers tighter quality control, price stability and sustainability.
As consumers increasingly shift to plant-based diets, the new animal-free pepsin could provide food companies with more flexibility in developing products.
As one of the oldest known enzymes, pepsin is getting a makeover to meet consumers’ needs as they seek out animal-free options.
Pepsin has been used as an ingredient in food products, including chewing gum, cheeses, and to provide whipping qualities to gelatin and soy protein. Traditionally, commercial pepsin has been sourced from the stomach lining of pigs. This has presented food manufacturers with supply and demand challenges.
According to Clara Foods, its animal-free pepsin has stable production costs. This allows it to avoid the same supply issues as the pig-sourced version. It also said its pricing is competitive.
To make the animal-free pepsin, the manufacturer said it taps a similar technology used to create rennet for cheese-making and heme for plant-based burgers. The process involves isolating the DNA sequence that encodes for the same protein as pig-derived pepsin. It then uses fermentation and yeast to create the final product. Clara Foods said its fermentation technology uses a fraction of the water and land and emits far less greenhouse gases than current large-scale factory farms.
With the debut of the animal-free pepsin, Clara Foods said its next big step is the commercialization of animal-free egg proteins. It has set a goal to become the world’s largest supplier of egg protein by 2028.