Gelatin… The tricky ingredient

How do you make your products available on the international market – without offending local consumers?

This can be much trickier than you would think. Think about the simple example of many sweets (or any other product that contains gelatin). Gelatin is made from animal byproducts, and therefore it is unsuitable for vegetarians. While vegetarian alternatives are available, vegetarian gelling agents often have a quite different “mouth feel” than animal based ones.

The problems with gelatin, however, don’t stop with it not being vegetarian. The largest amount of gelatin is made from pork byproducts. An alternative are beef byproducts. For example, Haribo, the famous German manufacturer of gummy candy uses pork based gelatin in its German (and most EU) products. However, for the products manufactured and sold in Turkey, it uses beef based gelatin. Haribo also has line of kosher products: In these products, the gelatin is replaced with fish-derived gelatin.

Thinking about gummy candy, how would you decide in which countries to sell which version of your product(s). Discuss the different ethical aspects involved in this: For example, if you were to sell the beef-gelatin based product in the UK, you would make it available to muslim consumers. However, hindu consumers could no longer enjoy the product. Conversely, the pork-gelatin based variety could be enjoyed by non-vegetarian hindu consumers …

How would you make justify your decision ethically?

Think of other countries with diverse populations: how would you make your decisions in those countries?

This is an example case which can be used together with the Marketing Ethics & Society book. It can be used as a complementary discussion topic for chapter 3: “Contrasting Perspectives on Marketing“.

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