By Jennifer Prince and Jennifer Grebow
Collagen has become one of the dietary supplement industry’s top ingredients to watch. Even though collagen is the most abundant protein in the body, accounting for around 25%-30% of its total protein count, supplemental collagen has only recently taken off stateside. Consumers in Asian countries like China, Japan, and Korea, however, have been reaping collagen’s skin-, nail-, bone-, joint-, and muscle-health benefits for decades.
Collagen still has mileage in Asia Pacific, where Euromonitor estimates an overall CAGR for collagen ingredients of 5.4% through 2021. Collagen innovation in this region is a well-established fact, and the ingredient can be found in a range of truly unique delivery forms, including in novel and indulgent foods and beverages.
A lot of the innovation is taking place in the confectionery aisle, says market researcher Innova Market Insights. Innova notes that in 2017, a whopping 28.4% of all new collagen food and beverage launches in Asia were confectionery launches. Gummies and jellies were the most popular product type, at 56.3% of the confectionery category.
Collagen innovation is also active in the general food and drinks market in Asia. Innova points to recent unique food and drink launches in Asia featuring collagen: potato chips (China), risotto (Japan), ice cream (China). In fact, Innova says, collagen food and drink launches in Asia experienced rapid growth of 17.9% CAGR in 2015-2017.
In the U.S., consumers are more familiar with collagen in powder, topical, and capsule form. But recently, collagen firms have also been incorporating collagen in teas, bars, and even baked goods, perhaps taking cues from the creative Asian market.
NeoCell is one company popularizing collagen food and drinks here in the U.S. Isaac Jena Szapiro, general manager, NeoCell, says one reason collagen is gaining traction here is due to growing research. “Lately in the U.S., there have been more studies around collagen, which has provided consumers with more information about the benefits of collagen,” Szapiro says. NeoCell's latest launches featuring its unique, hydrolyzed digestible collagen include new powder and gummy products.
Consumers are more apt to consider collagen in foods and beverages that can be incorporated in their regular, daily routine, Szapiro points out. For this reason, coffee has become a sought-after vehicle. Innova reports that, in Asia, collagen hot beverages, including coffee and hot chocolate, are already on the market.
One U.S. company, Dr. Kellyann, offers its own Slim Collagen Coffee instant coffee. The coffee, which launched in September 2017, delivers consumers’ daily dose of collagen in a convenient, travel-friendly packet. David Urman, chief business officer for Dr. Kellyann’s parent company, Best of Organic, explains that coffee and collagen are a natural fit and that coffee’s antioxidant properties gel nicely with all of collagen’s potential health benefits. “[Collagen is] a clean protein that supports joint health, helps fill you up as part of our weight-loss programs, and is amazing as a supplement for beautiful hair, nails, and skin,” Urman says. (Szapiro says customers are adding NeoCell’s Super Collagen powder to coffee, as well.)
Collagen is easy to formulate in food and drinks because it is tasteless, suppliers point out. Heather Arment, marketing coordinator, North America, for collagen supplier Gelita (Sergeant Bluff, IA), says, “Collagen is a very versatile ingredient. It can be used in almost any application.” Gelita’s collagen peptides, for instance, are neutral in taste and odor, she says.
U.S. companies continue to seek new markets where collagen can play, and in combination with other healthy, and even indulgent, ingredients. At the recent Institute of Food Technologists’ Annual Meeting and Food Expo in July, supplier Prinova (Carol Stream, IL) distributed prototypes of a Chocolate Caramel Pretzel Collagen Protein Bar.
Targeting specific consumers is also an opportunity. In Asia, there are collagen products on the market especially for seniors, Innova reports. The men’s market is also growing. “We’re seeing the male interest in collagen continue to grow, as well as Millennial consumption,” Szapiro says. Innova reports that a collagen skin-health drink for men launched in Singapore last year. Look for more of these ongoing developments. If collagen’s success in Asia is any indication, U.S. collagen is in for an exciting future.