These businesses want you to eat collagen instead of injecting it

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The company started after another co-founder Veronika Larisova, an ultra-marathon runner, did the Kokoda Trail and took jerky to eat on the track.

We’ve targeted millennials because they care about what they’re eating.

Justin Babet

“When she got back from Kokoda, Libby and Veronika were chatting about how impossible it was to find a healthy product in a bar that they would recommend to their personal training customers, so they decided to make their own,” says Justin Babet. Then they roped in Justin and Brock Hatton.

Targeting health-conscious millennials

He says the company’s first product was a savoury jerky bar.

“Our second product was a sweet nut butter-based bar with added collagen protein.”

Babet says the company decided to produce a range of products with collagen in them “mainly because there’s a lot of new research out around collagen supplementation showing that it’s great for tendons and joints, as well as healthy hair, skin and nails. Lots of top sports teams are now supplementing with collagen and a number of them are our customers.”

Chief Nutrition's product range taps into growing demand for collagen.

Chief Nutrition’s product range taps into growing demand for collagen.

“We also like that it’s not inflammatory like other protein sources and it has strong sustainability cred too because it uses what is normally a waste product in beef production.”

He says Chief Nutrition’s customers “are all ages and demographics but mostly millennials (24 to 39). We’ve targeted millennials because they care about what they’re eating.”

Chief Nutrition spent three years on research and development for the jerky and collagen bars, and has grown from stocking in 50 stores to around 500 in the past 12 months.

The co-founders started the business with their own capital. “Since then we raised a small seed investment a year ago and are now raising our next round,” he says.

“We’re raising up to $500,000 to fund product development, marketing and most importantly working capital.”

Research and development in-house

So why collagen? “It’s the most abundant protein in the human body, and is the glue that holds together the connective tissue that makes up skin, bones, muscles and joints,” says Rickilee Harrison, business manager of family business Nutra Organics, which launched its collagen products in Australia more than two years ago.

“As our bodies produce less collagen from our mid-20s, it’s important to supplement collagen to counteract the signs of premature ageing such as wrinkling, aching bones and joints and loss of muscle mass.”

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Harrison joined the family business in 2010 as part owner. Her parents Mark and Darlene Powell founded Nutra Organics in 1998, and her sister Brit Powell is also a part owner.

Based in South Murwillumbah in northern NSW, Nutra Organics “has over 150 products including targeted collagen blends and bars, bone broths, vegan proteins, superfood lattes, superfood blends, kids’ products, organic pantry staples and more,” says Harrison.

She says the company does its own research and development with its in-house naturopath and nutritionist.

Harrison says after the success Nutra Organics’ bone broth range, which contains naturally occurring collagen from the beef and chicken bones, the company researched further into collagen. “We discovered different collagen peptides that are clinically proven to target collagen regeneration throughout the body in specific areas.”

Nutra Organics’ turnover in the last financial year was more than $15 million.

Morlife sells products containing collagen.

Morlife sells products containing collagen.

“E-commerce has also been a growth contributor for us as we are able to sell globally online, and are gaining enough demand from overseas customers to be distributed through health food stores within their country,” says Harrison.

“We currently distribute to three overseas countries, and will be launching in seven more countries in 2020.”

From home business to $20m turnover

Cheryl Stewart is the co-founder of Gold Coast based business Morlife.

Cheryl Stewart is the co-founder of Gold Coast based business Morlife.

Gold Coast-based Morlife started in 2000 and “manufactures more than 300 health food products that have all been researched and designed to improve body functions”, says Cheryl Stewart, who co-founded the company with her father Warren.

Morlife, she says, is well known “as the masters of green powders, due to the highly successful Alkalising Greens product”. In August 2019 the company introduced collagen products in the market.

Starting off as a home business, Morlife now has 60 staff and more than 300 product lines sold Australia-wide and internationally.

The company’s turnover is on track to reach $20 million in the calendar year 2020, says Stewart.

The concept of Morlife’s Collagen Pantry was initially founded because Stewart kept forgetting to take collagen each day. “The thought came along to piggyback off existing habits that we already have in place.

“For example, every morning I always remember to make my coffee, so we produced a formula that has real coffee in it as well as collagen and herbs that help to give some energy.”

The company’s Collagen Pantry range includes keto coffee with collagen, beauty protein with collagen, beauty hydrating water with collagen, among others.

While Morlife’s range of products are available in health food chains, Stewart says, “We have found the Collagen Pantry is well suited to the cosmetic and salon space (online and retail) also, which has been an exciting new entry point for us.”

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