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SA collagen drink is beauty in a bottle


Two South Australian startups have joined forces to launch a health and beauty drink containing the fashionable protein collagen.

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South Australian beverage company Utonic and wellness brand Vani-T recently launched their Collagen Beauty Elixir online.

The drink is the latest in Utonic’s range of “functional beverages,” which aim to provide a range of health benefits.

It combines Vani-T’s bovine collagen power and Utonic’s sugar-free kombucha.

Utonic co-founder Michael Brinkley told InDaily Vani-T approached the company about a potential collaboration in January – prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Brinkley said he’d thought the product development would be simple but creating the beverage was trickier than he’d originally anticipated.

“It was based on our existing product, which is the sugar-free kombucha. So, in essence, it was supposed to be just a simple collaboration of putting the collagen in the existing drink,” he said.

“But, unfortunately, when you mix certain ingredients, they don’t always play together nicely. Collagen is a very stable product, so I thought it wouldn’t be too difficult, but as soon as we started putting the collagen with the drink it was very lively. Any carbonation was giving the drink a lot of life, and making it jump around a lot.

“But then when COVID-19 hit it allowed me to give myself a bit more time to really invest into it – because everything else stopped.

“I ended up ensuring there was no carbonation in the drink – so it’s a still drink.”

Utonic and Vani-T’s Collagen Beauty Elixir.

Utonic has 12 beverages in its range of 100 per cent natural and sugar-free drinks, which fall into four ranges: natural tonics, kombucha zero, superfood drinks and the collagen beauty elixir.

Vani-T offers a range of collagen products, including tea powders and supplements.

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body and is a major component of skin, bones, muscles, cartilage and nails.

According to a report into collagen by the New York Times in 2019, while the benefits behind ingesting the edible structural protein were still largely unknown, there were no downsides to taking the recommended dose of collagen peptides.

The report pointed to studies that found taking collagen for several months could improve skin elasticity, prevent the signs of ageing, increase density in bones and improve joint pain. But, it warned, many of the studies were small and funded by companies making the product.

Brinkley said with collagen a rapid growth area in the wellness market, a drink infused with the protein felt like a natural progression for the company.

“The big reason we started the company was looking at the beverage space and we thought there’s not a lot of companies that are driving health and when I say that not adding sugar to drinks, not adding preservatives, artificial,” he said.

“That’s a big driver behind the DNA of Utonic. We’re a firm believer that if you make simple choices in life then there’s a big flow-on effect. If you start eating the right foods, if you start drinking the right drinks. All of those things lead to living a much healthier life.

“So any ingredient that that has a functional benefit fits into the DNA of Utonic.

“Collagen is a functional ingredient that is essentially good for anti-ageing and improving hair, skin and nails.”

Brinkley co-founded the Adelaide-based business in 2016, along with Tyson Goldsack, Leigh Morgan and Toby Yap.

He said in the years since, the startup endeavoured to make Utonic the country’s leading functional beverage company. It has won and been nominated for a stack of awards for its products, including Beverage of the Year at the 2018 Food and Beverage Awards and the 2019 Consumer Award.

Brinkley was also last year named in InDaily’s 2019 40 Under 40 Awards.

Brinkley said, like with other awards, being named as a 40 Under 40 winner gave the brand exposure and gave him a business community from which to lean on.

“Even if you don’t directly see a benefit, you know that it’s doing something in the background,” he said.

“It feels like it’s a great support.”

The Collagen Beauty Elixir is available in 350ml bottles for $5.95 each online through Vani-T or in three packs for $15 online at 

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