Collagen peptides: The key to unlocking innovations in holistic health and wellness

Rousselot’s Global Innovation Centre in Ghent, Belgium (Image: Sebastien Borda)

Collagen peptides, as the building blocks of the human body, can play an important part in formulating solutions for today’s health conscious and discerning consumer.

By Pauline Huang, marketing manager of health and nutrition at Rousselot 

The pandemic has changed nearly every aspect of our daily lives, and consumer priority is no exception. Maintaining good health and a strong sense of well-being have always been important, but now they are at the top of the list for a majority of global shoppers*. This is not the only factor that has changed, however.

Following two years of isolation, restriction and sacrifice, today’s health-conscious consumer is not willing to compromise to fulfil their wellness goals. Where they once may have turned to “quick fix” diets or a short course of intense workouts, 65% of Chinese shoppers now are eating healthily more often and 57% have taken up a regular exercise regime*. At the same time, 60% say they want to see more innovation when it comes to taste and texture in wellness solutions*, in addition to expected advancements in functional benefits. In this new landscape of “have it all” nutritional needs, collagen peptides have an important role to play as an all-in-one solution.

From helping shoppers stay active at every stage of life to boosting beauty from within, collagen peptides can give brands the opportunity to address a wide range of trending concerns.

Getting to know collagen ingredients

Collagen is one of our body’s central building blocks. It is responsible for supporting the integrity and elasticity of virtually every connective tissue, including bones, skin, tendons, ligaments and cartilage.

In its native form, however, the collagen protein molecule is difficult for the body to digest – this is where hydrolysed, highly bioavailable collagen peptides like Rousselot’s Peptan offer an advantage. Finding insights on the mechanism of action for these peptides was the aim of a fundamental study* led by Rousselot in collaboration with sustainable food and agriculture development research institute INRAE and contract research organisation (CRO), Triskelion.

Targeted analysis of human serum drawn after Peptan intake showed increased levels of hydroxyproline-carrying dipeptides, well-known in scientific literature as markers for collagen bioavailability and are described to carry bioactivity. Investigating the transformation that different types of collagen peptides undergo during digestion and absorption, the study confirmed and strengthened conclusions of previous studies*, proving that Peptan collagen peptides are well digested, no matter the animal source, as during the digestion and absorption process, the average molecular weight drops and they become similar.

More precisely, the human serum analysis revealed the presence of bioactive hydroxyproline-carrying dipeptides in the blood after Peptan ingestion. These dipeptides (Hydroxyproline-Glycine and Proline-Hydroxyproline) contributed significantly to the total increase of hydroxyproline, the characteristic amino acid of collagen, in the blood. This means that Peptan collagen peptides can be efficiently digested, absorbed, and delivered to the site of action – whether administered in capsule, powder or gel form.

Upon closer inspection, however, the more targeted benefits they can bring to specific consumer groups presents even more potential for innovation.  

Stepping up sporting performance

The fitness world has always been about prevention, a factor that has grown in importance during the pandemic. Now acutely aware of the important role exercise can play in maintaining a strong immune system*, many consumers are adopting a more proactive approach to exercise, which emphasises a close connection between mental and physical wellbeing. Research from Innova Market Insights predicts that 46% of global consumers plan to exercise more as a result of the crisis, and a further third want to consume more supplements*. Therefore, by emphasising benefits like wellness and mobility support, along with sensory aspects that contribute to a more pleasurable consumption experience, manufacturers can appeal to consumers’ bodies and souls.

Establishing a long-term fitness plan is not the only challenge facing today’s consumers. In an increasingly connected world where information – both correct and incorrect – abounds, it can be difficult for shoppers to find the right habits and supporting solutions for their needs. Active and sports nutrition brands can play a key role in educating consumers about their products in a clear and transparent way without promising “quick-fix” solutions. They can do this by highlighting the value of gradual, permanent lifestyle changes in contrast to crash dieting, as well as ensuring all their functional foods or supplements feature ingredients backed by robust scientific evidence.

In 2019, Rousselot partnered with scientists at Newcastle University to carry out a clinical study of the impact collagen peptides can have on sports recovery times*. Results showed that the intake of Peptan reduced exercise-induced muscle soreness and supported muscle repair, contributing to a faster post-exercise recovery and performance improvement7. Along with these science-backed benefits, Peptan collagen peptides offer a traceable and safe sports recovery solution that is also fully compliant with the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) standards for prohibited substances. With these solutions, brands can empower consumers to make the right choice for them, and get back to their pre-pandemic fitness levels, faster.

Beauty from the inside out

It may sound obvious, but skincare is important to Asian consumers. For 28% and 31% of shoppers in Singapore and China respectively, improving the quality of the skin, hair and nails is the primary reason for purchasing dietary supplements, with a further 13% and 21% citing combatting ageing as their main priority*. A common factor among most beauty consumers is a growing awareness of how lifestyle factors can have profound effects on the skin. With this more holistic view of skincare, the concept of feeding “beauty from within” is gaining popularity*.

Nutricosmetics products are thriving around the world*, as consumers seek ingestible skincare solutions that are easy to incorporate into their daily routines such as with on-the-go format. While convenience is key, beauty fans still expect proven results even from a simple delivery format.  

Peptan offers nutricosmetic brands a comprehensive ingredient combining science-backed benefits and versatile formulation properties. It has been shown by multiple scientific studies to enhance the overall appearance of skin by helping to decrease periorbital and nasolabial wrinkles while improving skin hydration and moisturisation*. With its neutral sensory profile, cold- and warm-water solubility, heat resistance and a transparent appearance when dissolved, it can be easily added to everything from beauty-enhancing beverages to gummy supplements and “inner-glow” shots. Once again, the adaptability of collagen opens up a world of possibilities for products that enhance consumers’ natural beauty.

Growing older, gracefully

Our specific nutritional requirements shift and develop over time. As we age, our basal metabolic rate slows down and our lean muscle mass begins to decrease, making it more difficult to maintain a healthy weight and the strength required to keep fit. Older consumers are also at high risk of protein deficiency, requiring a higher intake of protein-rich foods. Physical disabilities, issues with chewing or swallowing and economic constraints can all add to the challenges older consumers face when trying to stay fit and well.

Despite these challenges, however, today’s seniors are ready and willing to take the necessary steps to stay active: 51% say physical activity is the most important aspect to growing old gracefully*. With the number of over 60-year-olds worldwide expected to rise to 1.4 billion by 2030*, opportunities are there for food, beverage, and nutraceutical manufacturers to win big by helping consumers stay active into later life.

Collagen peptides are pure proteins that can help consumers meet these nutritional goals while providing benefits for managing mobility and wellness. The results of an in vivo study, for example, show that Peptan can support cartilage tissue, which covers the bones of a joint and acts as a cushion and shock absorber. This is supported by a randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial that found the daily intake of Peptan reduces joint discomfort and regenerates joint cartilage*. These scientific findings showed Peptan’s ability to increase the production of cells responsible for the production and maintenance of the cartilage matrix after just three weeks*. The result is are stronger joints for ageing


2022 and beyond: What’s next for the nutrition market?

Trends will always come and go, but the seismic shifts in consumer priorities that occurred over the last two years are likely here for the long haul. Nutrition brands should continue to address the demand for holistic wellness, but as we gradually move into the post-COVID era, we expect to see personalisation and clean labels moving up the list of priorities. Both of these trends reflect consumers’ desire for a confidence boost following the uncertainty of the pandemic. With the help of all-natural and endlessly versatile collagen peptides, food and nutrition brands will be able to offer shoppers the certainty they crave by keeping labels short, clean and tailored to their needs.

* References are available on request

This article was first published in the April/May issue of Food & Beverage Asia.