A variety of innovative new collagen products are entering the American market, making it one of the fastest-growing collagen product markets in the world.
Collagen foods and drinks are popular in Asia. In Japan, consumers have been partaking in collagen-enriched dishes for the better part of a decade. It’s not unusual to see collagen jams, collagen noodles, and collagen candies on Tokyo store shelves, while a growing industry of “beauty restaurants” serve Japanese citizens with collagen-enriched meals. In Singapore, the MeiRenGuo (“Beauty Pot”) is a popular dish among young women. One restaurant, Beauty in the Pot, serves hot soups that incorporate a collagen-enriched, shark cartilage–derived soup base. It’s not just Asian countries that are seeing unique new collagen supplements and foods entering the market, however. Nowadays, innovative new collagen candies, collagen combination kits, collagen-infused salmon broth, and even collagen-enriched gin are driving market growth in the North American nutricosmetics industry.
As manufacturers continue to innovate, new kinds of collagen products will help drive category growth, both in the United States and abroad. Grand View Research estimates that the food and beverage segment of the collagen market will be the primary driver of collagen’s overall global industry growth through to 2025, with a 7% projected revenue increase.1
This market growth opens up all kinds of opportunities for unique new product formats and formulations. Here are some of the creative ways collagen marketers are formulating.
1. Grand View Research Inc. “Collagen Market By Source (Bovine, Porcine, Poultry, Marine), Product (Gelatin, Hydrolized Collagen), Application (Food & Beverages, Healthcare, Cosmetics), By Region, and Segment Forecasts, 2014-2025.” Published May 2017. www.grandviewresearch.com/industry-analysis/collagen-market
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Sports Supplements Target Older Athletes
While collagen’s primary application has historically been as a beauty and skin health aid, research is now showing that it has value as a sports supplement, especially for aging athletes and active seniors. Lauren Clardy, CEO of NutriMarketing Group (Santa Rosa, CA), says that collagen products are well suited to the sports niche, and new innovations are making collagen supplements more valuable for active seniors.
“Our bodies are over 90% collagen,” Clardy says, “so supplementing our diet with collagen can have a significant impact on joint, bone, and skin health. As clinical research continues to investigate collagen and its role in blood vessels and wound recovery, I think we’ll see more collagen continue to grow for more condition-specific sports applications.”
Clardy anticipates that the sports nutrition market will soon see the popularization of collagen-enriched protein supplements. Collagen protein powders for athletes are already on the market, with sports supplement brands like Bulletproof and ProteinCo selling collagen-enriched sports powders in the United States and Canada.
Heather Arment, marketing coordinator, North America, Gelita (Sergeant Bluff, IA), supplier of a range of collagen ingredients, says that the growing demand for collagen in sports nutrition is driving new research and market diversification around specific collagen peptides. “Collagen supplementation is not a one-size-fits-all solution,” Arment says. “Different collagen peptides offer benefits that are optimized for different areas of the body.”
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RTDs and Shots Gain Ground
While the American functional foods market lags behind those of other countries, functional drinks are an ideal niche for ingredients like collagen. Says Clardy: “We haven’t yet seen what you see in Japan, which is collagen marshmallows, etc. But we are seeing a bevy of collagen RTDs and shots hit the market, most direct-to-consumer.” She says that as a tasteless and odorless substance, collagen is ideal for inclusion in functional beverages and foods.
“We still haven’t seen a mainstream blockbuster product hit the functional food market,” Clardy adds, however. “There are lots of powders that are popular, but they’re dietary supplements.”
Beyond the standard food market, Clardy predicts that collagen products will play an important role in the medical foods market, saying that she hopes to see the development of a bone-building collagen product in a medical line. She predicts that collagen products may diversify around benefits like wound healing and post-surgical recovery. “My prediction is that we’ll see the introduction of a range of medical foods for specific conditions like sarcopenia, osteopenia, post-surgical recovery, and fracture recovery,” she says.
Arment says that collagen drinks, whether RTD or powdered, offer manufacturers a variety of new opportunities for innovation. “Collagen peptides are highly versatile,” Arment says. “They’re a pure source of protein, non-allergenic, and free of additives, cholesterol, fat, gluten, sugar, and proteins. In their natural form, they don’t react with other ingredients, making them ideal for diverse applications.”
Manufacturers are now focusing on formulating collagen beverages with unique flavor profiles as well as exciting textures, she adds.
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Collagen Candy and More
Move aside, Wonka Bars: Consumers with a sweet tooth are now also looking to their candy to help fend off wrinkles. Arment says that edible collagen supplements are veering into the confectionery niche, with products like chews and gummies already on store shelves.
“These portable, convenient supplements offer all the benefits of collagen in a fun and indulgent delivery system,” says Arment. “Even in the nutritional bar category, collagen lends itself well. We’re seeing bars offering exciting and worldly flavors along with the benefits of collagen.”
Candy-style collagen supplements range from fruit chews to chocolates to gummy bears, with some health bloggers even offering do-it-yourself home recipes for creating decadent collagen sweets.
Lisette van Lith is the global director for Peptan, a branded and patented collagen peptide manufactured by Rousselot (Son, The Netherlands). Van Lith says that collagen’s push into the candy space is part of an increasing trend of “supplements to go” and supplements that fit in with consumers’ existing habits. Says van Lith: “Pioneering clean-label solutions like yogurts, gummies, beverages, and chocolates are continuing to emerge, from on-the-go formulations to everyday diets. A number of unusual collagen products have hit the market recently, from collagen beer in Japan to collagen creamer in the United States.”
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Clardy says that one of the most creative type of collagen products to hit the market in recent years is the collagen kit: a product set that incorporates an ingestible collagen supplement, a topical collagen cream, and some type of delivery device. Collagen kits come in a variety of forms, sometimes featuring a mask-like device designed to infuse collagen into the skin in 20-minute application sessions.
In the past, Nutritional Outlook has explored the question of whether nutricosmetics are more effective than topical cosmetics. For her part, Gelita’s Arment says that orally ingested collagen is typically more effective than topical collagen creams. However, she also notes, again, that collagen supplementation is not one-size-fits-all and that different collagen peptides serve different purposes. Clardy told Nutritional Outlook in 2014 that while oral supplements work better than topical creams, both topical and ingested collagen have benefits-and they often work well in conjunction with each other.2
Douglas Jones, head of sales and marketing at BioCell Technology LLC (Irvine, CA), says that ingested collagen is particularly effective at stimulating production of new collagen in the skin. “Determining bioequivalence is nearly impossible when comparing different collagen ingredients,” Jones says, “but the science shows that collagen peptides can be absorbed intact and stimulate regenerative cells like fibroblasts.” He adds that clinical studies show that daily ingestion of his company’s BioCell Collagen branded and patented collagen ingredient increased the type I and type III collagen content in skin and stimulated the production of type II collagen. One open-label human clinical trial funded by BioCell Technology followed 29 healthy female subjects aged 35 to 59 for 12 weeks, with participants receiving 1 g of ingested BioCell collagen or a placebo once daily. This trial found that ingested collagen supplementation reduced skin scaling and dryness and increased the collagen content in the skin.3
As further studies prove out the value and viability of ingested collagen, expect more combination kits to enter the market.
2. Decker KJ. “Skin Deeper: Does Collagen Work Better from the Inside Out?” Nutritional Outlook, vol. 17, no. 20 (April 2014): 60-68
3. Schwartz SR et al., “Ingestion of BioCell Collagen, a novel hydrolyzed chicken sternal cartilage extract; enhanced blood microcirculation and reduced facial aging signs,” Clinical Interventions in Aging, vol. 7 (2012): 267-273
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