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Seeing the term “collagen” on your favorite snacks, skincare, haircare, and supplements 20 years ago was almost unheard of. The collagen craze has dominated the CPG space over the last decade and it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. Historically, collagen was used to help treat inflammation for those who suffered from arthritis. It wasn’t until the late 90’s that it began being used for beauty treatments to reduce wrinkles and fine lines. Then supplement brands slowly started adding the studied ingredient into their formulas. Collagen is a large protein that is present in almost every vertebrate animal, as well as many marine species. When the collagen protein is purified from skin or fish scales, bone, cartilage, and other areas, it can be digested with natural enzymes to become gelatin and gelatin hydrolysates. These can be further digested into collagen peptides or hydrolysates.

The global collagen market was at an estimated $3.5 billion in 2018 and jumped to $8.36 billion in 2020 with anticipated growth to $16.70 billion by 2028. The growth comes from mainstream food, beverage, cosmetics, skincare, wellness, and healthcare brands investing in collagen first products. One consumer brand that has taken up massive market share in this space is Vital Proteins. Vital Proteins was the first heavily branded CPG company to bring the benefits of collagen mainstream growing 1983% year over year in the last five years.

In 2013, Kurt Seidensticker, Vital Protein’s founder, and CEO began suffering from knee pain and found collagen to be a lifesaver. He began to research ways that he might be able to reduce or combat his knee pain naturally and findings led him to try collagen. As mentioned earlier studies have shown collagen provides a number of health benefits, including decreased bone and joint pain, benefits to hair, skin, nails, and even gut health. After supplementing his own diet with collagen and experiencing the many benefits of collagen firsthand, Seidensticker started Vital Proteins with the goal of helping others achieve the same results. “From 2013-2015 I was going out there and sharing the message about collagen for your overall wellness. We started to get a lot of traction which got us into Whole Foods by 2016,” shared Seidensticker. “The one thing we did that was very unique, was to provide a large enough dose of collagen to really reap the benefits. After years of spreading our messaging, competitors followed which helped us continue to share the overall benefits of collagen with the world.” Currently, Vital Proteins offers more than 20 different collagen products. Most come in powder form, some in capsule form while others come in creamers for coffee and stick packs for “on-the-go” use with 10-20 grams of collagen per serving. Just last year Vital Proteins was acquired by major food conglomerate Nestle proving that collagen isn’t just a buzzword. 

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Vital Proteins may have led the way for the collagen space but more and more wellness brands are bringing collagen into the mix. Online grocery delivery store, Thrive Market, has invested in their own collagen lines along with building a large catalog of collagen-based products which remain a highly demanded category. Female-led wellness brand, Love Wellness, recently announced its collagen sticks in the form of Verisol. According to Lo Bosworth, founder, and CEO of Love Wellness, Verisol is more effective to stimulate and increase natural collagen production when it comes to improving skin elasticity and preventing wrinkles, significantly decreasing cellulite score, supporting thicker, shinier hair that’s less prone to breakage and promoting growth, strength and overall health of fingernails. “With Call Me Collagen, we are giving collagen a much-needed upgrade, providing the first-ever collagen product that gives results with only 5g per serving (instead of 20g), meaning you can take less and still get optimal results. This is made possible by Verisol, which is the only oral intake collagen peptide specifically optimized for skin improvement. All the collagen brands out there require 20g of collagen per serving to show results,” shared Bosworth.

FORTE NATURALS founder, Brianna Meighan, shares a similar story to Seidensticker when it came to collagen inspiring her to start her brand. As a marathon runner, she knew the importance of taking collagen for her joints. But as she became a mother of two, carrying around a large container of collagen to make smoothies or shakes no longer became efficient. She just didn’t have the time to consume collagen on the go. “When we started developing our FORTE NATURALS Collagen Protein supplement in early 2015, from day one, I said to my team that our collagen has to be in a pill form so we have to find a way to develop it into a small, easy-to-swallow tablet, and so we did. It was a risky move because at the time the industry leaders were all doing collagen powders and encouraging collagen shakes, but I knew that if I personally found this collagen powder shake format to be extremely inconvenient, that most likely other consumers out there would also agree and would be grateful to have a collagen pill or tablet option available as well,” explained Meighan. “FORTE NATURALS was one of the pioneers in disrupting the collagen protein supplement industry because when we launched our FORTE NATURALS Collagen pills, it was rare to find other collagen protein pill options since all the other major brands were exclusively focused on collagen powders.”

The one thing all these founders can agree upon is the demand from consumers for collagen-based products. As consumers have become more educated about the benefits of collagen, they want more of it- whether it be in a form of tablets, powders or ready-to-eat snacks.