With neck-to-neck competition amongst various collagen brand companies, many prefer investing their significant chunk of capital in marketing and advertising. At times like these, they have to rely upon third-party manufacturers.
A third-party manufacturer helps a company reduce workload, time, R&D, and investment costs. However, a dilemma arises when the company begins to research the perfect fit for its needs. It would be best if you considered many factors before partnering with a third-party manufacturer, but we would like to share our view on this topic. Foremost, because there is no ideal third-party manufacturer, both parties need to invest a chunk of time and resources for things to function.
Choose the right Collagen format
We often hear different dilemmas about which kind of collagen we should use in »my« collagen supplement. The answer is relatively straightforward. Collagen is a complex protein, whereas hydrolyzed collagen is broken down into small units, called collagen peptides, made of a few amino acids. Let us look at both types in more detail and explain their characteristics.
If collagen is not broken down, it is called gelatin, which you can find as a supplement, but it is not as common. Gelatin supplements contain larger peptides and do not dissolve as easily in liquids. Gelatin is often used to make gummies or as a thickener, as it gels when mixed with liquids. Because it is not entirely broken down, gelatin is more likely to cause an upset stomach and bloating because of the larger units of peptides. Collagen peptides indeed are the best form of collagen for ingestion. And, if you are searching for a third-party manufacturer, you should expect them to offer you collagen peptides, not gelatin or collagen. Be wary of terms used by the supplier.
Furthermore, our R&D would say that technically this means that all quality collagen supplements are hydrolyzed. The better the hydrolyzation is made, the easier it is dissolved in liquids. To get a first-class quality liquid collagen supplement, we need to source the best possible collagen peptides on the market. Thus, you can be assured that a liquid collagen supplement manufacturer needs to offer you the best quality of collagen if they want to provide you stable, tasteless, and odorless final product. But these liquids manufacturing characteristics also make it very difficult to compete with lower quality products such as collagen supplements in powder or capsule form. It is a fact, and it primarily refers to the technological quality and features of the ingredient.
What about Collagen types?
There are 28 known types of collagen, and there are at least 23+ one ways of misleading you when trying to sell you third-party manufactured collagen supplements. Why? Because there are five of these types that you can find in the supplements at your favorite private label manufacturer. And only three are interesting for the consumer.
The most abundant collagen found in connective tissues is Type 1. It is a powerful form of collagen that is considered the building block of our skin. If you are a beauty brand, you should focus on this one.
Type 2 collagen is the kind that forms your cartilage. Cartilage is found all over your body—in your ears, nose, bronchial tubes, rib cage, and joints. Joint pain and arthritis are common ailments with symptoms that may be alleviated by supplementing with Type 2 collagen. This makes Type 2 a wellness company’s preferable collagen type.
Now, Type 3 collagen ties back into Type 1 collagen. Also, a significant component of our skin and organs, Type 3, is fibrillar collagen. It can be found in the heart and many other areas of the body where you find Type 1 collagen. Skin elasticity is another concern many have as one ages, and Type 3 collagen will boost firmness and elasticity, helping to retain a more youthful appearance. The last two types of collagen are Types 4 and 5. Occasionally, these will be seen supplementally in a “blend” of collagens. Type 4 is used in forming the placenta of pregnant women, and Type 5 is used to create cell surfaces and hair as well as being found in cartilage.
The myth around Vegan Collagen
The last type and most misleading is the term vegan collagen. To clarify, plants do not contain or produce collagen, so there is no such thing as vegan collagen. Most of them refer to plant-based collagen builders, including vitamins, minerals, and other ingredients to support collagen production. It is essential to distinguish this: potentially supporting collagen production and supplementing with collagen are two completely different things. Any supplement company that is trying to infer their product contains actual vegan collagen is misleading because it does not.
Many collagen peptide ingredient manufacturers source their raw material from factory farms, and these animals are exposed to heavy metals through their diet, drinking water, contaminated soil, and more. The toxins can accumulate in soft tissue and bones — the same animal byproducts used in collagen peptide supplements.
The importance of severe Quality checks
Heavy metals are a significant health concern for food and food supplements. Heavy metals can cause organ damage and are considered probable carcinogens even at low levels. One study of 121 products revealed that 5% of them surpassed the safe daily consumption limit for arsenic. Two percent had an excess lead, cadmium, and aluminum, and 1% had too much mercury. In June 2019, the Food and Drug Administration seized 300,000 dietary supplement bottles because their pills contained excessive lead levels.
Bacterial and fungal contamination in dietary supplements is not uncommon. In one assessment, researchers found bacteria in all 138 products they investigated. Toxic fungi were also in many of the supplements, and counts for numerous products exceeded the acceptable limits set by the United States Pharmacopeia. Fungal contamination of diet supplements has been linked to severe liver, intestinal, and appendix damage.
Without a proper quality check, the potential consequences for collagen brands are considerable. When a manufacturer replaces only one ingredient with an alternative, consumers can develop severe diseases. This especially happens when ingredients are sourced overseas. Unfortunately, not many manufacturers conduct quality testing in third-party laboratories and have certificates of analysis readily available for their clients. We structured our approach to work hand in hand with producers of different ingredients we use in our manufacturing process to battle this. Especially this counts for collagen. The quality process itself is thus more costly but assures less headache.
Do not forget paper works and what you should ask for
But this is not all. When choosing your collagen supplement manufacturer, you should also consider the regulations and documentation provided by the manufacturer. European regulations for food supplements are generally stricter than in the U.S. This difference is primarily due to the fact that Europe has chosen a precautionary approach to Regulation, while the U.S. governing bodies tend to be more reactive. There is a general rule that each nation administers its food laws and standards. The challenge is for collagen businesses that export and import among the countries — how do they meet the variety of national standards.
For example, in the E.U., Commission Regulation E.C. No 1881/2006, setting maximum levels for specific contaminants in foodstuffs sets the limits for heavy metals, namely arsenic, cadmium, mercury, and lead. For most of the world and U.S. states, these limits are reasonable, but the exception is California, where they have imposed California Proposition 65 (officially known as the safe drinking water and toxic enforcement act of 1986). In Prop 65, the upper limit for lead is 50-times stricter than in the Regulation mentioned above. If business operators do not meet the limits, the label must bear the following warning: this product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm. You have to pay attention to these details so as not to fall into the regulatory trap.
From safety studies to efficacy testing and claims substantiation, clinical trials in the beauty industry provide comprehensive data that increases the credibility of the products and the brand. With the information provided to them, consumers can see the real-life results with their own eyes. The detailed statistics and the graphic illustrations in clinical trials certainly offer a better understanding of the actual benefits.
Clinical & Stability Studies for a job for everyone
Selectively, we prove the efficacy of our products with clinical research. The best and most reliable form of research is a double-blind, placebo-controlled study where a group of people is receiving treatment, and the other is receiving a placebo. Double-blind means that neither the patients nor the researchers know who is getting a placebo and the treatment. All the patients in the food supplement clinical trial must be healthy individuals and fit the same profile (for example, similar body mass, age, gender). To be relevant, the study must be performed by experts and in our case it is done by an external independent organization.
Clinical trials are vital for collagen beauty brands, as it is rare for even skincare enthusiasts to see the visible effects on their skin. If the brand can effectively document how its product works magic on their skin, the consumers would be more tempted to take action and possibly add the item to their wish list.
Stability studies are performed for collagen supplements to determine the effects of environmental conditions on product quality. Environmental conditions can impact product shelf life and the viability of product formulation. The concentration of the active ingredients must match the amounts that are declared on the product label – not just on the date of production but on the last day of the product shelf-life. In the E.U., Stability studies for food supplements are not mandatory; however, business operators are responsible for ensuring that the products they put on the market align with what is written on their declarations.
Chemical stability is an issue in the food supplement industry, especially for supplements in liquid form, as active molecules can freely move and react with other ones. But the positive side is that this does not affect product safety in most cases.
Besides ingredient potency, sensorial properties are also subject to product stability. On the market today, most collagen-containing liquid supplements are poorly designed, and we can observe liquids turn darker over time. The cause for this is stability issues resulting in unwanted brown pigments, off-flavors, losses of essential amino acids (building blocks of collagen), and even the formation of potentially harmful mutagenic properties!
So, as you can see, many factors influence your decision on whom to work with or not. We mainly covered the ones that are not that obvious because the obvious ones, e.g., price, lead times, capacities, have been discussed numerous times, and we did not want to repeat the same mantra.
We believe that we need to provide your intelligent marketing campaign and sales effort with a scientifically-backed product to make the new customer want to learn about your brand and create a loyal consumer group who is purchasing the products. We provide you with the best tools to push the consumer down the purchase funnel effectively with logic and hard facts.