Could collagen be a billion dollar food and beverage opportunity? | Analysis and features
When a Kardashian puts their name on a trend, it’s guaranteed to make headlines. So when Kourtney told the world about her daily collagen habit in 2019 — a habit that comes in the form of a Pink Moon Milk Collagen Latte every morning — the health and beauty world lent a particular attention.
“Doing my morning collagen,” Kardashian told her Instagram followers one day in November. “Great for skin, hair, nails, so many benefits. It also has protein, which keeps me full until the end of my workout,” she added, pouring some hot water on the breakfast powder.
It’s a post that sparked a craze. While collagen has long been an ingredient in supplements and some cosmetics, the past three years have seen a slew of collagen-containing food and beverage products hit the market, all promising anti-aging benefits and taste quality. .
Last year saw launches from Jenki Matcha, Australian company Krumpled Foods, New Nordic, Fyx and Your Good Health Co, to name a few.
The latter has already secured a listing in Superdrug for its Your Beauty Collagen drinks, which contain bovine collagen, while Fyx rolled out its marine collagen waters to Holland & Barrett stores in the spring.
This came in response to consumer appetite for these products. “We’ve seen an increase in customer demand over the past 12 months for food and beverage products with added benefits,” said Matt Fox, Holland & Barrett’s deputy category director of beverages, at the time of the press release. registration of Fyx.
These launches join more established brands such as Collagin, which unveiled its collagen-infused gin in 2018. Founders Liz Beswick and Camilla Brown went on to receive two offers on Dragons’ Den, earn an Ocado listing and launch a crowdfunding campaign of £100,000 in 2020 (although the pair later announced that they hadn’t hit that target as “the timing wasn’t right”).
Ocado also lists products such as a collagen peptide bovine protein powder from Hunter & Gather, launched in 2019 to capitalize on the “growing popularity” of collagen as an ingredient.
Experts think it’s much more than a Kardashian-led flash. Bloomberg predicts that food and beverages will be a major driver of the collagen market’s expected 5.5% compound annual growth rate by 2028, when it will reach approximately $7.1 billion.
These food and beverage companies all tout one advantage over traditional collagen tablets: an element of fun.
“I’ve never met someone who wakes up in the morning and thinks, ‘I can’t wait to take my daily pills,'” says Keira Rumble, founder of Krumbled Foods, which launched its collagen-infused Beauty Bites in UK last year. .
“Our goal is simple: to make everyday important things like nutrition enjoyable, fun and delicious,” she adds.
Your Good Health Co takes a similar line. “We wanted to make taking collagen more than just a supplement and more of a ‘way of life,'” he says. The company felt this was best achieved through the convenience of the drink format – and promises it tastes ‘delicious’.
Food developers are also confident in the potential of collagen. David Jones – one half of food development and branding consultancy Bingham & Jones – is noticing an increasing number of these products. “It’s the novelty that’s coming and without a doubt we’re noticing that as a big trend,” he says.
Yet, interestingly, brands often cite taste as one of the biggest barriers to wider adoption. Your Good Health Co admits that unflavored collagen products “can be unpleasant or unpleasant”, while New Nordic says many consumers are wary of marine collagen drinks for “afraid of a fishy taste”.
Jenki Matcha says it was hard to get her collagen rose matcha. “We spent a lot of time finding our collagen to make sure the taste didn’t impact the experience,” says co-founder Claudine Stevenson.
This may explain why many buyers remain wary. According to an exclusive YouGov RealTime survey for The Grocer, only 7% of UK adults who are aware of collagen supplements are likely to purchase a food and drink format in the next six months. This figure was just as low – 6% – for traditional collagen supplements.
For food developer Jones, negative taste perceptions could be easily overcome. “Collagen has a very neutral flavor in its natural form,” he points out. Some collagen-containing products can perform very well in terms of taste, he claims, citing bone broth as an example.
Jones worked on developing the Bone Broth Bros brand, which he describes as “one of the best NPDs we’ve ever done.” Granted, it contains natural collagen, rather than an artificially added form. But the latter type can still work well. Jones is working on a new collagen drink and has high hopes for the NPD.
For him, there are bigger hurdles for collagen to become a mainstream proposition. Affordability is one. Bone Broth Bros sells for £12.50 for five sachets. A 400ml bottle of Fyx Water costs £2.29. Collagin sells for £35 for a 50cl bottle on Ocado. None of these could exactly be described as cheap.
This means that for now, collagen is struggling to reach beyond the more affluent and health-conscious demographics.
A piece of education
Some brands, such as Your Good Health Co, are working hard to solve the affordability problem. Their product costs £17.99 for 30 daily servings. But even then, they have a job to do on consumer education.
YouGov’s survey for The Grocer found that 38% of consumers are unaware of collagen supplements, while even those who are are unconvinced of its benefits. More than half understood collagen’s main selling point of improving the appearance of skin, but almost a quarter said they were unsure what benefits it offered.
This is not helped by conflicting science on the subject. While some studies have touted the anti-aging benefits of collagen, others struggle to find conclusive results. Some positive studies are funded by industry. It seems that the research just isn’t strong enough to determine the extent of collagen’s effects on the skin.
However, a 2019 review of the available evidence found that “preliminary results are promising for both short- and long-term use of oral collagen supplements” and one collagen supplement company – Ingenious Collagen – has just made a breakthrough. It has successfully completed an independent, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial with its supplement format, which uses a protective vegetable cellulose capsule to protect collagen peptides as they pass through the stomach.
This ensures that the ingredient can safely reach the small intestine, where the nutrition is absorbed. “The science is clear,” says Pupinder Ghatora, CEO and Pharmacist of Ingenious. “If the collagen peptides are not protected, they are digested.”
Other brands point to the benefits of hydrolyzed collagen, which is broken down into smaller particles for easier absorption. New Nordic’s collagen shot uses this form, and Vitl also uses hydrolyzed collagen for its soon-to-be-launched drink format. A liquid allows high doses of collagen, “which is difficult to put in a tablet”, adds Roxane Bakker, chief dietician of Vitl.
All of this attention and research suggests that the market has potential. So if clear scientific benefits can be communicated – along with a more affordable price – it might not just be A-listers chowing down on collagen for breakfast.