With that, product development in this space has increased. In fact, new launches of joint health products with collagen increased by 30% between 2019 and 2020.
NutraIngredients spoke to industry players in this space - Gelita, Bioiberica, Hofseth BioCare and Lonza - about their views of this market today.
What are your thoughts on consumers’ perception of collagen for joint health in Europe?
Martin Walter, Category Management Mobility, Global Marketing & Innovation Management, Nutrition & Health Ingredients at Gelita, said: “While consumers have long since known about the benefits of collagen for skin health, they are now becoming increasingly aware of the ability of specific collagen solutions to positively impact joint mobility and flexibility.
"Growing trust in the proven effects of this vital protein is crucial post-pandemic, as a growing number of people are reporting issues with their joints and bones. Furthermore, 20% of those questioned in a recent survey by Vitafoods Europe said they suffer from mobility-related health issues.”
Dr Crawford Currie, Head of R&D at Hofseth BioCare, said: "...younger people are now more interested in joint health and mobility from a primary prevention perspective. Rising general health awareness and increased average life expectancy has influenced this push to prioritise healthy aging, disease prevention and optimisation of well-being. Fitness has also played a role in driving this holistic approach to health – powerfully spurred on by exercise trends and awareness on YouTube and Instagram. It is therefore unsurprising to see an uptick in demand for collagen, given its association with joint health benefits."
Jaume Reguant, healthcare director at Bioiberica, said: “Today, after skin and beauty, joint health is the second highest driver for collagen use – with a third of global consumers stating they find adding collagen into their diets appealing. As a result, the number of new joint health product launches containing collagen has grown exponentially in the last five years (Innova Market Insight 2022). In fact, collagen is currently driving growth of the joint health category, which has historically been dominated by ingredients, such as glucosamine and chondroitin.
“In addition, almost half of regular collagen users say they have increased their intake over the past year – suggesting there is a growing loyal base of consumers that are seeing the benefits and wanting more. As consumers continue to understand more about collagen and its associated benefits, the market is primed for continued growth.”
Lindsey Toth, associate director, global marketing, Lonza Capsules & Health Ingredients, said: “This growth is expected to continue as collagen—particularly undenatured type II or ‘native’ collagen—establishes itself as a go-to ingredient for joint health consumers, with the global collagen supplements market projected to expand at a CAGR of 5.5% from 2022 to 2028)
Lonza's UC-II undenatured type II collagen has a unique, proprietary manufacturing process from chicken sternum cartilagen - a gentle, low temperature-processing to preserve more of the undenatured triple helix structure of the type II collagen. The firm says this process ensures that bioactive binding regions on the collagen triple helix, called epitopes, are preserved enabling its unique mechanism of action, which triggers the body’s natural process to build new joint cartilage.
A recent study concluded the UC-II undenatured type II collagen improved joint flexibility 15 times better than placebo, help active consumers of all ages hit their daily step count, and decrease joint discomfort by over 30 minutes following physical activity
Clinical studies show that daily intake of 5g of Fortigel helps in the reconstruction of the extracellular matrix of the joint cartilage. Through an increased biosynthesis of type II collagen and proteoglycans, it helps maintain normal joint function, contributes to the reduction of joint discomfort and thus improves mobility. Such proven effects mean it has approved health claims in Canada and Brazil too.
Collavant n2 is Bioiberica’s high-quality native (undenatured) type II collagen. A recent study suggests that products formulated with Bioiberica’s native type II collagen (Collavant n2), and the herbal extract Boswellia serrata could reduce joint discomfort in just five days.
Meanwhile, a recent study concluded that combining chondroitin sulphate, glucosamine hydrochloride, and hyaluronic acid (Mobilee) with native type II collagen (Collavant n2) yields better results than the same combination without native type II collagen.
CalGo is Hofseth Biocare's joint health product rich in zinc and undenatured type II collagen to support increased bone density.
The firm's OmeGo product provides salmon oil with 21 omegas and fatty acids to deliver all the nutritional benefits of consuming whole fish.
What are the demographics of the joint health consumer?
Walter: “The United Nations predicts that by 2050, there will be 2.1 billion people globally aged 60 or over. And so the main target group is obviously older consumers (55+) who will become increasingly susceptible to age-related mobility issues.
"That said, as collagen degradation begins at around the age of 30, a growing number of younger people are becoming aware of the benefits of supplementation, making it a hot topic for this demographic too. Joint health solutions therefore have mass market appeal.”
Toth: "Consumers of all demographics and ages have become increasingly proactive about their health and have developed a better understanding of the importance of staying mobile and flexible, which has spurred demand for joint health support. As a result, the market is no longer solely targeted to seniors—joint health brands have now placed renewed focus on delivering joint support to diverse consumer groups, from millennials to boomers and everything in between."
Reguant: “Research suggests almost half of 18–34-year-olds want to improve their bone and joint health. This younger demographic also recognises the link between movement and mental wellness. To address this, they proactively seek out solutions that support their mobility, which in turn is driving the development of new collagen formats.
“As people of all ages continue to recognise that exercise has a positive impact on other health areas, such as their mood, energy levels, sleep quality, or even immunity, we expect interest in mobility solutions to continue to grow across multiple demographics.”
Are there any collagen myths you’d like to bust?
Walter: “It’s important for consumers to realise that, despite what they may think, it’s never too late to start taking collagen, as it can have a positive impact on bone and joint health regardless of age – even for those in their sixties and seventies.”
Dr Currie: "A major misconception is that all collagens are equal. However, type, sourcing, traceability and sustainability are increasingly important. Our collagen is 100% traceable and is derived from Atlantic salmon from the pristine waters of the Norwegian fjords. Our collagen is type II collagen, the joint collagen, whereas bovine and porcine collagens are type I and III, which are relevant but more to the skin health category.
"Importantly, there has never been an instance of infections being transferred from marine species to humans whereas this is not the case with other animal-based products. Finally, while pork and bovine-derived collagens make up a significant proportion of collagen products, they do present religious and cultural issues for some consumers."
Reguant: “A great deal of mystery still remains surrounding the various collagen forms and sources - there are 28 known types of collagen in the body and five different types are commonly used in supplements categorised as type I, II, III, V and X. There is much work to be done to differentiate collagen types and understand their associated mechanisms of action – and to then effectively communicate this to consumers.
“Growing misconceptions around the idea of ‘vegan collagen’ are also a cause for concern. Being an animal-based protein, there are currently no vegan collagen supplements available on the market. Although, plant-based supplements known as ‘collagen boosters’ or ‘vegan collagen builder’ do exist, they don’t contain collagen. Instead, they are composed of a variety of ingredients – from plant extracts to amino acids, vitamins and minerals – help enhance the body’s ability to produce collagen. As well as not being able to offer the same benefits as real collagen products, they typically don’t have the science to back them up.”
What does the future hold for this market?
Reguant: “Convenience, quality assurance and transparency will be vital for new product development in the years to come. As joint health consumers seek out solutions that can be easily incorporated as part of their daily regimen, new delivery formats are a key area of exploration.
"To address this, manufacturers will need to overcome challenges related to taste, solubility and active ingredient analysis that are common when formulating with functional ingredients.
"In addition, the compatibility and chemical stability of active ingredients in food products is important to consider because of the biological function, and therefore, effectiveness of the ingredient may be impacted by food processing, pH levels, temperature, oxygen and light exposure or specific food chemicals. Today, formats such as bars, ready-to-drink beverages, gummies and powders already have a strong foothold in the market.”
Dr Currie: "We believe the collagen market will show significant growth over the coming years, as the benefits of collagen are realised, demand from other demographics increases, and more consumers understand the role of supplementation in supporting an active lifestyle and healthy ageing. We expect collagen-based products to become more popular than chondroitin and glucosamine-based dietary supplements, due to the respective joint health benefits. However, one size can’t fit all and clearly having different options is important to ensure individual needs are met effectively.
The latest market report from NBJ shows that joint health is the second largest category in the collagen market, after hair, skin, and nails, and the trend is on an upwards trajectory."
Toth: "As clinical proof of efficacy and convenience become more important in supplement purchasing decisions, we expect that science-backed, small-dose ingredients like our UC-II® undenatured type II collagen will garner greater attention from today’s savvy consumers."