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History of the Industry

The beginning of present day commercial production of edible sausage casings from bovine (beef and dairy cattle) collagen started in two separate centres.

The manufacture of collagen casings started in the 1930s based on research by German scientists.  These early casings were tough due to the cross-linking chemicals employed.  Cutisin started manufacturing large diameter salami casings in Czechoslovakia in 1933; this business prospered and in 1952 manufacture of smaller more tender casings commenced.

In 1953 the company Fibran was established in the Catalan Pyrenees in Spain, and two years later launched a range of casings in small and large diameters.

This German collagen-casing technology was based on what is referred to as the dry-extrusion principle; a second development, called the low-solids wet process, was developed in the 1950s by Johnson & Johnson in the USA.  The J&J initiative grew out of the company's interest in developing surgical grade collagen products, and in 1958 they formed Devro Inc. to pursue the sausage casing business.

Throughout the 1960s, Devro expanded production in the US and the UK while it continued to refine its manufacturing methods.  At the same time, the Naturin company in Germany entered the casing market with their product based upon the original patents of the 1930s.

In the subsequent 40 years there have been a lot of developments; in the 1970s, Nippi in Japan developed their own process to supply casings to their domestic market, Teepak started up in the US while in 1975, the Viscofan Group was established in Spain to manufacture artificial sausage casing products.

Also in the 1960s/1970s the casing technology used by Cutisin was spread to Russia and Ukraine (Belkozin), Poland (Fabios), and Serbia (Koteksprodukt), and subsequently a business (Wuzhou) was established in China.

The last 30 years have seen significant growth along with the meat industry which has changed from small, labour intensive, local processing to large, mechanized, regional and national meat product manufacturing corporations.  There has also been reorganisation with Cutisin and the Teepak US factory now part of an independent Devro and Naturin and Koteksproduct part of Viscofan, while Nitta Gelatin entered the industry by buying the original Devro factory in the US.

During this time casing development has continued as the manufacturers have focused on innovation and the products from the different processes now overlap.  Twenty first century sausage manufacturers can select from a wide range of suppliers when they need economical, uniform and safe edible casings.