The joint health market is experiencing a rapid recovery as COVID-19 lockdown measures continue to ease. In light of this, Lonza is highlighting the importance of collagen products for providing effective solutions to an increasingly well-informed and growing consumer base.
NutritionInsight speaks with Lindsey Toth, associate director of product management at DFS & Ingredients, Lonza Capsules & Health Ingredients. She explains how the joint health market has changed since the onset of the pandemic, what consumers are now expecting and how Lonza is working to accommodate new demands.
Exercise patterns have changed for good
Toth says the joint and bone supplement market saw steady growth before the onset of the pandemic, with a CAGR rate of 5.3 percent expansion over the past five years. However, COVID-19 forced consumer interest onto other supplementation areas like immunity, mood and sleep.
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Now that the pandemic is beginning to subside, Toth says Lonza expects a resurgence of consumer focus on joint health as exercise patterns recover.
“As vaccination availability increases, people are eager to return to their physically active routines, and the global joint and bone supplement market is now valued at US$10.8 billion. As the world reopens, we are seeing 26 percent of people starting to exercise more than before COVID-19.”
In western markets like the US, where vaccination rates are high, the joint and bone category is facing a rapid recovery as consumers look for products that help them get back to their physically active routines and back into shape, she says.
“Experts anticipate lasting momentum as new consumers who entered the dietary supplements market during the pandemic will generate demand in new categories – like joint health – and existing consumers are re-energized.”
Healthy aging and active lifestyles
The growth of the joint health market is being driven by two key factors, says Toth: healthy aging and the rise of the active lifestyle nutrition market.
“One in six people globally are projected to be 65 years or older by 2050, and we see everyday fitness become a more commonplace aspiration than “sports.” Both of these trends put mobility top of mind for many globally, across all age demographics.”
A consumer survey by Lonza reveals that an almost equal percentage of Millennials (37 percent) and Baby Boomers (38 percent) are likely to be interested in joint health.
While 50 to 65-year-olds look to maintain flexibility and seniors are likely to prioritize reducing joint pain and improving mobility, health-conscious Gen Z is better-informed than any previous generation about the importance of supporting health throughout life, including their joints, according to the survey.
“Many in Gen Z are looking for joint health solutions that support their active lifestyle, which may involve regular high-intensity workouts with goals of beating their personal bests,” explains Toth.
Delivery and dosage difficulties
Lonza expects current ingredient preferences to change the joint health market, says Toth, particularly as a wider range of delivery formats becomes available.
“While traditional joint health solutions still take up shelf space, we know that consumer preferences are driving changes in the category, especially when it comes to convenience.”
“For example, glucosamine and chondroitin is a long-established duo, but sales have been in steady decline in many markets as of late. This is not only because of the conflicting clinical evidence of its efficacy, but also because it requires a large dose,” she says.
Pill fatigue is still a key issue for many consumers, making convenience paramount. Providing easy-to-consume supplement formats without sacrificing efficacy will lead to future NPD.
According to Lonza data, 93 percent of consumers say scientific efficacy is necessary when purchasing a product, and 45 percent of supplement users want their dietary supplements to be easy to swallow.
“This creates a high demand for a tiny, once-daily offering in the joint health market,” continues Toth.
The demand for effective and easy-to-consume joint health supplements leads to a core ingredient, says Toth: Collagen.
“Science tells us that collagen production decreases as we age, and we see this decreased production as a driving force in the supplement industry. Many health ailments people look to address today are rooted in an association with the body’s production of collagen – decreased joint pain, increased hair or/nail growth, plumped skin.”
While collagen and its benefits have been understood for some time, only recently have new industry players on the scene more overtly connected exogenous collagen ingestion (powders, supplements, foods) with the inherent benefits of endogenous collagen production, she says.
“Given the sought-after nature of these benefits, it has been an easy sell to get mainstream media onboard to further fuel the fire and turn collagen into the world’s latest ingredient darling, including in the joint health category.”
UC-II undenatured type II collagen is what Lonza considers to be the “next generation” of joint health ingredients. It has clinically proven benefits, with three published clinical studies backing its ability to reduce joint discomfort and increase comfort and flexibility.
Unlike hydrolyzed collagen, which requires doses upward of 2,000 to 10,000 mg, UC-II undenatured type II collagen requires just one small 40 mg dose of UC-II undenatured type II collagen once a day to support joint comfort, mobility, and flexibility.
“We also know that UC-II undenatured type II collagen works differently than other joint health ingredients, with ingestion triggering the immune system to rebuild and repair joint cartilage from the inside out,” Toth concludes.
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