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Operational Challenges Causing Shift From Natural To Artificial Sausage Casings

   September 26, 2019

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 in irregular size and shape; whereas, artificial sausage casings are available in various shapes, sizes, and appearances. If natural sausage casings are not properly stored, they tend to smell bad due to gas being collected in them. Also, they have a very high tendency of breaking as compared to the artificial sausage casings, chances of breakage during handling, and risk of microbial contamination.

In contrast, 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. This makes casing manufactures shift from natural sausage casings to artificial sausage casings

In the past decade, artificial sausage casings have undergone tremendous development 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. The variety offered by artificial sausage casings has become almost unlimited. 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. Also, cleansing for animal intestines, the necessity of cold storage environment, and high labor costs increase the overall operational cost are restricting the growth of the natural sausage casings market.

Further, 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 easy and quick to work. They are consistent and stable than gut casings, achieving what can sometimes be dramatic cost savings over 50% in some cases. Also, another advantage is that collagen casings are immediately ready-for-use. There is no soaking or other preparation required as, for instance, as required with gut casings. Collagen casings are particularly effective when sausages are filled mechanically with conventional stuffing machines, as the casings are replenished automatically. This again leads to shorter throughput times. Overall, manufacturers can double their production volume compared to conventional gut casings.

Nowadays, vegetarian or vegan sausages contain all ingredients from plants. They were developed to replace the center of plate meat products, primarily targeting vegans and vegetarians. The consumption of vegan sausages has been increasing in the last few years because of animal diseases, the global shortage of animal protein, strong demand for wholesome and religious (halal) food, and economic reasons. For instance, according to Good Food Institute, in 2019, plant meat-based sausages and hot dogs sales accounted for USD 159 million in the U.S., an increase of 43% from 2018. Factors such as increasing consumer focus to reduce meat consumption in their diet, technological developments, improvements in product formats, and increasing financial investments are driving the market for artificial vegetarian casings. These health benefits and increasing adoption of edible vegetarian casing among the consumers are succeeding in attracting the attention of artificial sausage casings manufacturers.

Plant-based sausage products are trending and have marked serious growth in vegan product development. Across the food value chain, companies are looking to generate growth through innovation and product development in plant-based products, both within their legacy brands and by creating new product offerings. Some plant-based sausages launches are as follows:

  • In January 2020, Impossible Foods Inc. (U.S.) launched sausages at 139 Burger King Restaurants in five test regions: Savannah, Georgia; Lansing, Michigan; Springfield, Illinois; Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Montgomery, Alabama.
  • In January 2020, High Peaks, an all-natural and plant-based sausage brand, was launched in the U.S. to meet the increased demand for meat alternatives. The sausage brand will introduce four flavors in multiple regions across the country, with plans to continue retail expansion throughout 2020.
  • In February 2020, Alpha Foods (U.S.), a vegetarian prepared food manufacturer, raised USD 28 million in financing for its portfolio of vegetarian burritos, tamales, nuggets, pizzas, burgers, patties, and sausages.
  • In February 2020, Lightlife (U.S.) launched plant-based breakfast sausage links and plant-based sausage patties made with pea and rice protein.
  • In July 2019, Dunkin' (U.S.) partnered with Beyond Meat (U.S.) to present a new plant-based meat product—New Beyond Sausage Breakfast sandwich in Manhattan.

Meticulous Research®, in its latest publication on ‘Artificial Sausage Casings Market,’ states that the global artificial sausage casings market is expected to reach $4.47 billion by 2027, supported by a CAGR of 6.2% during the forecast period of 2020 to 2027.

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