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Hides to Riches - Extracting food grade collagen from beef hides

Collagen can be extracted from bovine hides to create products fit for human consumption.

Project start date: 05 November 2020
Project end date: 29 June 2022
Publication date: 08 November 2022
Project status: Completed
Livestock species: Grass-fed Cattle
Download Report (0.7 MB)


Freeze Dry Industries (FDI) completed an earlier MLA Donor Company (MDC) funded Research Project – 'Developing High Value Freeze Dried Australian Red Meat Product and Services' (P.PSH.0999). The objective was to identify a three to five-fold value adding opportunity for the red meat industry through the application of freeze-drying technology.

This design led approach highlighted waste hides and the extraction of collagen as a lead opportunity. At the same time, the Australian hide (and skin) market continues to drop to almost record low prices meaning not just hide waste streams, but indeed alternate uses for hides need to be fast-tracked. Further, the demand from wellness, beauty and fitness trends for collagen continues to grow globally.

This project aimed to further research and develop the potential to extract human food grade bovine collagen using FDI’s technology, and advance the business model to procure raw material and produce powdered product for these adjacent markets to the traditional meat sector.


Specific project objectives were to refine the production process of freeze-dried hides to extract, then prove, three main grades of collagen:

  • Pet food grade collagen.
  • Human consumption grade collagen.
  • Cosmetic/medical grade collagen.

An overarching project objective was to be able to produce commercial quantities of all three grades of collagen as soon as practical, and to describe the value for the Australian red meat industry. Validating the value proposition for whom will desire these products and what is the value chain to supply – make – sell collagen was completed. This included a forecast business plan presented to MLA to outline commercialisation and contribute to MLA measurement and evaluation attribution of 'collagen' impact and investment.

Key findings

The key findings from the project are:

  • A clean organic process to extract collagen from bovine hides was developed and optimised and is now ready to be commercialised.
  • The extraction process has been Certified Organic by the ACO.
  • An international provisional patent is pending for the process.
  • The amino acid profile of the organic collagen produced is superior to the current market leader.
  • There is a growing desire for consumers to buy collagen that is ethically and sustainably produced.
  • Animal welfare is of particular concern for consumers.

Benefits to industry

By taking a low value fifth quarter product FDI can guarantee a minimum price for the hides, ensuring that the producers will get paid and won’t need to dump the product. FDI will then in turn take the hides and increase the value further, growing the market size of the red meat industry.

MLA action

Publish this final report on the MLA website.

Future research

Continue research into high value consumer products and export markets in order to identify value adding opportunities for fifth quarter, historically low value, red meat by products.


For more information

Contact Project Manager: John Marten