PB Gelatins/PB Leiner explores collagen’s wide range of potential applications

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25 Sep 2017 --- Convenience, health and wellness and protein are buzzwords on the tips of everyone’s tongues, and these trends are currently providing the inspiration for a range of NPD at PB Gelatins/PB Leiner. The company is currently bringing its convenient, indulgent products to a wide audience, with collagen peptides being its star ingredients.

“Globally, if you look at the new product launches with collagen peptides, you see that there is a huge growth rate, and every year more and more products are being launched with collagen peptides,” Cindy Dekeyser, PB Gelatins/PB Leiner Sales & Marketing Strategy, explains. 

Statistics bear this claim out: Innova Market Insights figures show that there was a +34 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in new product launches for collagen peptides from 2010 to 2016.

Click to EnlargeNutritionInsight spoke to PB Gelatins’ Cindy Dekeyser and Yingying Wu to find out about the company’s moves and challenges in the beauty and convenience foods spaces, as well as its SOLUGEL series and INSTAGEL leaf gelatin powder, which it describes as the most convenient ready-to-use cold soluble gelatin product.

Collagen peptides lead the way
“From our point of view at PB Gelatins/PB Leiner, there is no doubt that key new ingredients on the rise are going to be the collagen peptides,” asserts Dekeyser. 

Interest in collagen peptides is mainly driven by an increased consumer interest in health and wellness, but also by the aging population. Collagen peptides have functional benefits for beauty and skin health, but also for bone and joint health; muscle recovery; and sports nutrition, Dekeyser notes.

The use of collagen was big in Asia long before it came to other regions.

“In Asia you have a very high acceptance of beauty foods and drinks so you can have collagen teas, cookies, chocolates, coffee, waters, etc,” says Dekeyser. “It’s also because it’s linked to traditional medicine in certain parts of Asia, where a specific foodstuff is already linked to a health benefit or a beauty benefit.”

“It’s already in the mindset of the people that certain foods can benefit your health or make you beautiful – and you see it often targets the feminine indulgence foods,” Dekeyser explains. She adds that this is very different in Europe and North America because there is much less acceptance of the food concepts and in European and North American minds it still seems like food should not multitask.

The lack of inbuilt trust in the consumer also means that the products are a harder sell outside of Asia. “Today in, let’s say, the more Western countries, you need to make that claim to educate the consumer on what it can do for them,” Dekeyser says. “Therefore, it is quite crucial to support the beauty claims with scientific evidence, especially to the consumers in Western countries. In our company we invest in various clinical studies to understand the health benefits of SOLUGEL collagen peptides. For example, a recent placebo-controlled double-blind clinical study carried out at the institute of Cosderma in France over a period of 56 days proved the positive effects of the oral intake of 10g SOLUGEL in terms of skin net elasticity, firmness, as well as skin hydration. We see an significant improvement of 14 percent in skin hydration on the cheek among the group taking SOLUGEL. In addition, the skin firmness and net elasticity also improve by 11 percent and 17 percent, respectively, while the placebo group shows a decrease in skin firmness performance.”

Click to EnlargeFor Europe and North America there is generally a different angle than in Asia, “less toward the beauty and more toward either sports nutrition – because it is protein – or because it can support your muscles, and bone and joint health is especially important.”

Collagen is therefore applied in different ways. “You have gummy bears with collagen, for instance, because it’s pretty similar to popping a capsule,” Dekeyser says. “You can eat a gummy but then you see some spillover going to a coffee or a tea, for example, with collagen in it that we see much less.”

In Europe and North America, there is more skepticism towards indulgence food, Dekeyser adds. “In Asia, people see a chocolate that can make you look beautiful and think, ‘well, fantastic.’ In Europe [people] don’t really link it to beauty so there’s much more skepticism and a much higher barrier in the market.”

However, it’s very important to remember that the Latin American market is again much more like Asia, Dekeyser notes.

“There is a high acceptance of beauty foods and it is a very important market for beauty. You have Brazil, Venezuela and Colombia: those are countries that have an obsession with being beautiful, and out there you see there is a huge demand for exactly this type of product,” Dekeyser says, adding that the only downside is the economic circumstances in some of those countries. Still, Latin America is going to follow Asia much easier than the Western markets of the US and Europe, according to Dekeyser.

Protein presents powerful opportunity
Dekeyser pinpoints several consumer trends in food and beverage that are of specific importance.

“First of all is the high-protein trend which started in North America. That is most mature there: protein is in everything, driven by health and wellness because people believe it’s important and good for their health. It helps you look better, it makes you better at sports and so on.”

Indeed, Innova Market Insights statistics show a +34 percent CAGR for new product launches with high or added protein from 2010 to 2016. Other markets are picking up, Dekeyser has noticed. “If you look at the new product launches again – what’s in Europe, Latin America – it’s going fast, and the typical candidate for where you would expect it to be is sports nutrition and dairy.

“That’s also where we see most of the high-protein innovation going on, but it’s spilling over to other applications,” adds Dekeyser. Drinks, cereals and pet food are just three examples of products now being launched with high-protein or added-protein claims to them, Dekeyser notes.

“We do see that this may be something we should question – can it go on forever? Probably not, because especially in North America, the average consumption of protein per capita in the US is reportedly already higher than the RDA,’” says Dekeyser.

Click to EnlargeAlthough innovation keeps growing, PB Gelatins/PB Leiner is starting to see the focus shifting away from pure protein to a protein that has something additional to offer, according to Dekeyser. 

“For instance, our collagen peptides are a kind of protein, but they’re also good for bone and joint health or for beauty, so you’re going one step beyond,” she says.

Consumers look for convenience
Convenience is another key trend. From 2010 to 2016, the number of new products with an easy-to-prepare/timesaving positioning had a +11 percent CAGR, according to Innova Market Insights statistics. PB Gelatins/PB Leiner is ready to serve this market.

“Lifestyles are changing everywhere around the globe, so if things are easy to prepare or timesaving, that is going to [become] more and more important,” says Dekeyser. “In Europe and Latin America especially, you see a focus on that. For instance, talking from a gelatin perspective, there are baking mixes and baking ingredients. You no longer bake a cake from scratch. You just take a package, you add some milk and eggs – or whatever it is you need for your certain product – and you already have your dessert or your baked product ready.”

This is another big opportunity, Dekeyser believes. She points out that it is why PB Gelatins/PB Leiner was the first company to invent the concept of a cold soluble gelatin. The company’s CRYOGEL and INSTAGEL lines are key products in this area.

Everyone is becoming more career-driven, according to Wu, and women are experiencing this trend particularly strongly. “If you look at convenience, think about today: who has the time to make a dessert for four hours?” Wu asks.

“Women want to get more done at a faster pace. Imagine that you can come home and prepare a dish such as pannacotta in one hour instead of four hours,” Wu says, adding that PB Gelatins/PB Leiners INSTAGEL allows for a speedier preparation of dishes than leaf gelatin.

Looking to clean up
Another big trend for PB Gelatins/PB Leiner is clean label.

“Everything that is natural, no preservatives, no additives is on trend,” Dekeyser says. She adds that with all the recent food scandals, people are starting to think about what is going into their food, but there is also a link to sustainability because the in-demand ingredients are natural.

“People think it’s going to be better for the environment, it’s more ethical and even to a certain degree sensory or indulgent: a lot of consumers seem to believe that if you go for more natural ingredients, you’re looking at higher quality, better taste and so on,” Dekeyser says. “Then you’re talking about products that have no E numbers if you look at the ingredients list – no ingredients that have chemical-sounding names, no additives, no preservatives, all that kind of stuff – going back to natural and cupboard ingredients.”

However, there is a question about what a “clean or a natural product” is, according to Dekeyser: “When you talk to consumers about it, you ask ten people and you get different answers,” adding that a shift is occurring from just “clean” to “lean” label, whereby companies seek to make the list of ingredients as short as possible. PB Gelatins/PB Leiner hopes to take its chance in this space.

“We see a big opportunity for gelatin there because it’s a very natural product and it is multifunctional. You can use it as a stabilizer, a water-binding agent and a whipping agent. It’s a thickener and emulsifier, so it can have different functions so you can reduce the list of ingredients,” Dekeyser concludes.

By Lucy Gunn and Paul Creasy

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