Collagen is a key supplement ingredient for anti-aging, but why? When one thinks of collagen, most likely it’s related to either reducing wrinkles or supporting joints. “If you lose the collagen structure in your bones, that’s osteoporosis," said researcher Steffen Oesser, founder of the Collagen Research Institute in Kiel, Germany, who holds patents on several collagen formulations. “Lose the collagen in skin, you get wrinkles."
Today’s Baby Boomers are age 60, yet want to look like they’re 50 and act like they’re 40 (or vice versa). However, collagen loss commences at a much younger age. While there are different studies and reports of when and how much collagen loss occurs, it is estimated collagen production begins to diminish as early as age 18.
Elasticity is what holds the skin tightly to the face and body. Collagen and elastin are lost during aging due to daily exposure to high levels of free radicals, which are notorious for damaging the skin, as well as destroying collagen. In addition, the body stops producing collagen at a certain point. Just like the lack of elasticity in the skin can cause sagging, the joints can also become stiff with age, due to the effects of losing elasticity.
Collagen is a major structural protein making up approximately one-fourth of the body’s protein. Providing strength to the body, collagen is made up of amino acids—glycine, proline, hydroxyproline and arginine—which are in turn built of carbon, oxygen and hydrogen. Collagen is found in animals, especially in the flesh and connective tissues of mammals. Therefore, collagen is vital for skin elasticity, serving as the glue that holds everything together. It protects the skin by preventing the absorption and spreading of pathogenic substances, environmental toxins, microorganisms and cancerous cells. It is also present in all smooth muscle tissues, blood vessels, the digestive tract, heart, gallbladder, kidneys and bladder, holding the cells and tissues together. Collagen is also a major component of the hair and nails.
On draxe.com, Josh Axe, certified nutrition specialist, shared seven potential benefits of collagen.
- Improves health of skin and hair
- Reduces joint pains and degeneration
- Helps heal leaky gut
- Boosts metabolism, muscle mass and energy output
- Strengthens nails, hair and teeth
- Improves liver health
- Protects cardiovascular health
Understanding collagen’s potential benefits is one thing; however, translating that knowledge into successfully marketing and selling products with collagen requires a review of the market opportunities. According to Global Market Insights, Competitive Market Share & Forecast 2016-2023, the global collagen market size was valued at more than US$3 billion in 2015, and is likely to exceed $5 billion by 2023, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 7% from 2016 to 2023. In addition, the functional food and beverage market was valued at $129.39 billion in 2015 (Functional Foods Market Analysis by Product, by Application, by End-Use, And Segment Forecasts 2014-2024). It is driven by increasing consumer consciousness regarding health and proper diet. Consumers of all ages are realizing foods are not only intended to satisfy hunger, but also to help eliminate nutrition-related disease concerns.
Opportunities to explore product innovation in 2017 are expanding. Collagen supplements have been launched in a variety of formats, ranging from tablets to powders. However, an emergence of collagen in food and beverage applications has been lacking. With the application of beverages specifically, The Physician’s Desk Reference noted 85 to 90% of nutrients in liquid supplements are absorbed in 22 to 30 seconds. Beverage application offers a stronger absorption/bioavailability option in product innovation.
In addition, although collagen products have a strong presence at retail in natural, other outlets such as mainstream food and drug have room for growth. Integrating functional ingredients can enhance the consumer’s product experience, leading to potential benefits and increased enjoyment, whether from a food, beverage or supplement.
Finally, how does the consumer recognize collagen? “Anti-Aging" products tend to create a buzz, appealing equally to a Baby Boomer or a Millennial. Many consumers begin having concerns about aging as early as their 20s. At the least, collagen is well recognized by many consumers as something that can “help with the skin." This offers the opportunity to engage and lead from here with consumers.
Debbie Wildrick is chief strategy officer at MetaBrand. A sales, marketing, and operations executive and channel strategy specialist in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry with more than 30 years’ experience, she has had leadership roles at Fortune 500 companies, including 7-Eleven Inc. and Tropicana North America (Pepsico), as well as executive positions with several early-stage brands. Wildrick has also played an active role with the Network of Executive Women, where she has held the positions of education chair and membership chair as a board member for 10 years, and is currently facilitating the Women-Owned Small Business initiative.