Sustainability mission leads to eggshell-derived veggie collagen

By Olivia Haslam

- Last updated on GMT

© vasare / Getty Images
© vasare / Getty Images

Related tags egg shell Circular economy Food waste Sustainability Upcycling Collagen Calcium

Ingredient supplier Eggnovo is upcycling egg byproducts to produce vegetarian collagen, which it says is effective at a five times smaller dose than some animal-derived alternatives.

The supplier, which specializes in eggshell membrane (ESM) ingredients, launched in 2014 to tackle the growing problem of waste generated by food factories, aiming to give a second life to the egg industry waste and contribute to a circular economy. 

What started as a sustainability research initiative soon evolved into a strong nutraceutical offering, as the brand realized it had a highly efficacious ingredient. 

"We ended up with a product with a significantly lower recommended dosage compared to traditional collagen supplements," Ainara Urtasun, technical sales specialist at Eggnovo, told NutraIngredients.

According to Urtasun some animal-based collagen brands will recommend a daily dose of as much as 15 g, but she claimed a dose of 300 mg of Eggnovo's eggshell membrane per day would produce "better effects and in less time".

And while 'vegan collagen' is gaining popularity, Urtasun explains that collagen by definition must be animal derived, and 'vegan collagen' supplements instead contain ingredients such as vitamin C, zinc and copper that act to boost collagen production.

"And some 'vegan collagen' supplements comprise various active elements in small quantities, requiring high doses," she added.

'Veggie collagen'

"A big part of our mission is explaining the comprehensive benefits of our multi-formula approach," Urtasun said.

"ESM acts in a synergistic way, with naturally containing collagen type I, V and X, as well as glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, hyaluronic acid among other glycosaminoglycans, and more than 400 different proteins, some of them rich in sulfur amino acids," added Oihane Nieto Iriberri, research and development lead at Eggnovo.

"The natural ESM matrix is composed of hundreds of bioactive protein molecules with infinite physiological functionalities and the capabilities of producing greater effects than those produced by other better-known ingredients such as collagen or even chondroitin and glucosamine."

An evolving market

Collagen comes from animal bones, and so supplements are usually derived from pigs, beef and fish, however, this is a real barrier to consumers who adhere to certain dietary or lifestyle patterns.

"We found our niche in providing a sustainable vegetarian source of collagen, which recognizes the diverse preferences of consumers, including vegetarians and those with specific dietary or religious considerations," Iriberri said.

The brand began with a focus on joint health, with its product Ovomet, designed to reduce joint pain and inflammation​, aid cartilage regeneration​ and improve tendon elasticity. 

But as studies progressed, further benefits emerged including improvements in skin, hair and nails, Urtasun said: “Eggnovo initially concentrated on joint health, but recognizing the rising demand for beauty from within, we adapted our offerings to cater to individuals seeking preventive actions and holistic well-being beyond joint support.”

The supplier’s second ingredient, Ovoderm, launched in support of skin health, utilizing the collagen, elastin and hyaluronic-rich qualities of ESM. Research has shown its ability to decrease skin trans-epidermal water loss​, reduce skin fatigue, increase skin hydration and elasticity, and the skin's general health condition. It has also been shown to be an efficient skin recuperator after UV radiation.

To preserve the integrity of the molecules, the brand’s patented technology separates the membrane from the eggshell using only water, unlike other techniques which often use chemicals, further damaging the environment, Iriberri explained.

And continuing with its sustainability drive, the company launched Ovocet, a calcium ingredient made from the eggshell exterior.

Eggshells have been shown​ to contain 380 mg of calcium per gram and a bioavailability comparable to calcium carbonate. Previous research in isolated cells also found that calcium absorption was up to 64% greater​ from eggshell powder compared to pure calcium carbonate.

"The natural source of calcium has been shown to increase bone density​, and is potentially of higher nutritious value due to the presence of certain trace elements​ such as strontium, magnesium, phosphorus and transport proteins," Iriberri said.

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