SPORTS NUTRITION SUMMIT 2019

Meet the Trailblazers: Collagen-based Vieve Protein Water provides bonus for lactose intolerant

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

©Rafael Rozenson (Instagram: drinkvieve)
©Rafael Rozenson (Instagram: drinkvieve)
September’s Sports Nutrition Summit introduces a trio of start-ups intent on disrupting the sports nutrition status quo with their mix of ingenuity and innovation. This year features Rafael Rozenson, founder and CEO of Vieve Protein Water.
Rozenson 3
©Rafael Rozenson (Instagram: drinkvieve)

Formed in 2018, UK-based Vieve Protein Water​, offers a water-based protein drink containing 20 grams of protein, zero carbs and sugars with no artificial flavours or colours. 

The beverage, which uses collagen peptides as the main protein source, is Rozenson’s answer to a convenient hydrating protein drink on the go that does not use powder or milk.

“I created Vieve because I was frustrated with the state of products that were on the market,”​ he explains.

“I hated the experience of mixing powders and found it to be very messy and not convenient. Most ready-to-drink protein products are full of sugar, calories and taste artificial.  

“The idea for Vieve came about a few years ago when I was working at Evian. I looked at a bottle of water and thought wouldn’t it be great to combine that with protein in a product that was refreshing, hydrating, easy and taste great?”

Lactose intolerance

Along with these unique selling points, Rozenson also taps into current food and drink trends, in particular the shift towards non-dairy alternatives.

Intolerant of lactose and dairy himself Rozenson said the decision was to offer a non-dairy alternative in the UK market, where 1 in 5 adults identify themselves as being lactose intolerant.

Rozenson 2
©Rafael Rozenson (Instagram: drinkvieve)

Another trend that Vieve Protein Water connects with is the idea of hydrating and topping up protein during intensive, prolonged bouts of exercise such as cross-fit and marathon running.

With collagen peptides as the main protein source, the product is easier to absorb than whey for example, supporting growth & maintenance of muscle mass as well as joint, skin, hair and gut health.

However, as with all start-ups, half the battle was initially to be noticed in a crowded market dominated by the likes of Arla, FGS and fellow UK-based Company UFit. It required Rozenson to get creative.

“Generating mass market awareness is an incredibly timely (and costly) exercise - we are a small brand and I think we have barely scratched the surface,”​ he admits.

“Awareness of the category is still really low although the concept itself has a very strong appeal with consumers.

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“We recently surveyed close to 1000 consumers as part of a market research study and found 95% of consumer indicated they would be interested in trying protein waters,”​ he adds.

“This does present tremendous upside and as we grow we want to invest back in growing the category and generating more awareness.”

Regulatory requirements

While Rozenson wrestles with the marketing side of things, one area that he seems to be getting to grips with is the regulatory requirements of bringing such a product to market although as he admits, it is only one product so far.

“We haven’t found it that difficult, although it was a bit of a steep regulatory curve for me learning about packaging requirements, EFSA claims, etc. 

“For us it’s a bit of a challenge as collagen has many benefits but none are EFSA approved. In the US collagen manufacturers are much more liberal around claims on pack, etc. but in the EU we have to be much more cautious.

“I guess more EFSA approved claims around collagen would be beneficial, especially as the IOC recently recognised its potential benefits in preventing injury and potential usage for athletes.”

As for future plans Rozenson is thinking big with an exciting pipeline of NPD with the firm recently launching the product’s orange and mango flavour.  

“As well as this, the brand continues to grow internationally and is now available to buy in 15 countries with recent launches in United Arab Emirates (UAE) & Qatar.  

“The plan is to bring the brand into the USA in early 2020,” ​says Rozenson. “We are a young brand so there is lots of upside!”

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