Dutch supermarket Jumbo has replaced the gelatine in its fresh pastries with plant-based alternatives but continues using egg and dairy in many of them. This change, which the supermarket claims is the first in the Netherlands, will cut the amount of gelatine Jumbo uses by 13,000 kilograms per year.

Gelatine is an animal protein derived from boiling the bones, skin, ligaments, and tendons of cows, pigs, horses, donkeys, camels, and other mammals, and therefore it is not a suitable product not only for vegans but also vegetarians. Not all the gelatine is a co-product of the meat industry, though. Some animals are bred just for this protein. Ejiao is a gelatine made from boiling the hides of donkeys, used primarily in cosmetics and traditional Chinese medicine. 

As Jumbo has maintained the use of eggs and dairy in many of its pasties, it appears the move was aimed at gaining more vegetarian customers instead of vegans. Instead of gelatine, Jumbo will now be using alginate and gellan gum. Alginate, also called algin or alginic acid, is a natural polysaccharide derived from brown algae, while gellan gum is produced by bacteria through a fermentation process.

Other countries and companies have already reduced the use of gelatine. In 2014, UK retailer Marks & Spencer removed gelatine from its Colin the Caterpillar range, and in 2019 from its Percy Pig sweets.

In 2023, Jumbo dropped the prices of its plant-based meat range to make them cost the same as similar animal products. This move is like what other European supermarkets are doing. Recently, the Belgium division of Lidl, a German international discount retailer chain that operates over 12,000 stores in Europe, permanently cut the prices of its plant-based protein products.

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Jordi Casamitjana
“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.