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OPERATIONAL CHALLENGES CAUSING SHIFT FROM NATURAL TO ARTIFICIAL SAUSAGE CASINGS

   August 29, 2022

For decades, sausages have been stuffed into natural sausage casings made from animal intestines. Artificial sausage casings can be made from collagen, cellulose, and plastic and may not always be edible. Collagen casings have been around the longest and are produced from animal collagen, mostly from the hides of cows and pigs. Natural sausage casings are irregular in size and shape, whereas artificial sausage casings can be made in the desired shapes, sizes, and appearances. If natural sausage casings are not properly stored, they emit a foul odor. Additionally, they have a higher tendency to break during handling and a higher risk of microbial contamination than artificial sausage casings.

Collagen casings (artificial sausage casings) are more suited to automated production and cheaper to manufacture than natural sausage casings. They also meet food hygiene and traceability requirements more easily and can be more readily produced to technical specifications ensuring consistency, reliability, and versatility. These benefits drive casing manufacturers to shift from natural sausage casings to artificial sausage casings

Artificial sausage casings have undergone tremendous development in the past decade and are now available in various shapes, sizes, and appearances. In addition, artificial sausage casings can offer coloring agents, spices, smoke flavoring, and a variety of other materials as a part of the casing to be deposited on the product surface after stuffing and processing. Natural sausage casings manufacturing involves several challenges, such as the difficulties in sourcing animal intestines, the volatility of raw material prices, and the long production time of these casings. Furthermore, the cleansing of animal intestines, the necessity of cold storage environment, and high labor costs increase the overall operational cost are some factors that hamper the adoption of natural sausage casings.

The cost benefits of artificial sausage casings, especially collagen casings, to sausage manufacturers can be substantial, with significant savings in time and labor costs. These casings are more consistent and stable than gut casings, achieving cost savings of over 50% in some cases. Additionally, another advantage is that collagen casings are immediately ready for use. In contrast to gut casings, no soaking or other preparation is required in collagen casings. Collagen casings are particularly effective when sausages are filled mechanically with conventional stuffing machines, as the casings are replenished automatically, resulting in shorter throughput times. Thus, using collagen casings enables manufacturers to double their production volume compared to conventional gut casings.

Vegetarian or vegan sausages mostly contain plant-based ingredients. These sausages are developed to replace meat products, primarily targeting vegans and vegetarians. The consumption of vegan sausages has been increasing in the last few years due to the high prevalence of zoonotic diseases, the global shortage of animal protein, the high demand for wholesome and religious (halal) food, and other economic reasons. For instance, according to Good Food Institute, in 2019, plant meat-based sausages and hot dog sales accounted for $159 million in the U.S., an increase of 43% from 2018. Factors such as increasing consumer focus on reducing meat consumption, technological developments, improvements in product formats, and increasing financial investments are driving the market for artificial vegetarian casings. These health benefits and the increasing adoption of edible vegetarian casings among consumers are driving manufacturers to produce artificial sausage casings.

Meticulous Research®, in its latest publication on the ‘Artificial Casings Market,’ states that the global artificial casings market is expected to reach $5.14 billion by 2029, supported by a CAGR of 6.6% during the forecast period of 2022 to 2029.

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