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Nutricosmetics: A New Way to Beauty

By: Eleni Grammenou
Posted: September 17, 2008

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Japan is the leading nutricosmetic products market, although the Asia-Pacific region as a whole is generally an important market for these products. Consumers have a long-held awareness of the role of food, drinks and dietary supplements—particularly in the form of nutritive tonics—in health, wellness and beauty. Their receptiveness to this concept has opened the way for an innovative nutraceuticals market, crowded with products so novel that they struggle to find credibility beyond Japan. Examples include collagen-enriched soup from Nissin Food Products; although it sounds unappetizing to Western palettes, it should be well-received in markets that already associate chicken soup with health benefits. Shiseido’s pureWhite skin whitening drink, and edible fragrance, Fuwarinka, which releases a vanilla scent via the sweat glands, are also notable.

Collagen-filled marshmallows from Japanese confectioner Eiwa failed to sell when they were brought to U.K. shelves in 2006. However, they did receive considerable media attention, even from the mainstream press, and a range of other nutraceuticals products have been making moderate progress in Western markets. Ferrosan’s Imedeen, Inneov (the result of a joint venture between L’Oréal and Nestlé) is one of the better-known beauty supplements on the market, and the concept has become so widely accepted that private label ranges have started to emerge to challenge these brands.

Beauty foods are a newer development in Western markets, but they are gaining ground—particularly in dairy, a key sector for fortification. In February 2007, dairy giant Danone launched Essensis beauty yogurt in France and other select Western European markets, and functional bottled water and ready-to-drink tea are the other main categories where beauty benefits are claimed. Coca-Cola, for example, is teaming up with L’Oréal to produce a tea-based skin care drink, Lumaé, due to be launched in 2008. Like Borba Skin Balance waters, which are stocked in beauty specialist Sephora, Lumaé will be distributed through upmarket cosmetics retailers, such as department store Saks Fifth Avenue, rather than the usual soft drinks channels. Some smaller companies are forging new ground with more experimental offerings, including French firm Laboratoires Noreva’s Norelift antiaging jam. Chocolate could also become a key beauty sector. Rich in antioxidants, the food industry has already put a lot of work into repositioning this guilty pleasure as healthy.

In terms of Western markets, Spain is emerging as one of the most important for beauty foods. There is already strong demand in Spain for fortified foods—the country has the third highest per capita consumption in the world, and functional claims are increasingly focusing on beauty—partly due to local consumers’ high priority on looks (according to the Spanish Association of Cosmetic Surgery [Sociedad Española de Cirugía Plástica, Reparadora y Estética], more women undergo cosmetic surgery in Spain than in any other European country). The predominance of ultra-high temperature (UHT) sterilization of food before packaging, as opposed to fresh dairy, is also driving this market because long-life products are more easily fortified. This has also allowed the slimming supplement tonalin, among other ingredients, to find its way into the dairy sector. This type of ingredient implementation in food also has strong potential in the U.S.

Nascent Market Needs Food for Growth

The nutricosmetics market is still in its infancy, commanding $2.1 billion, a small fraction of the beauty market, and accounting for just 3% of the $66 billion skin care market in 2007—the vitamin and dietary supplement market, in contrast, is worth $56 billion. The condition of skin and the role it plays in the perception of beauty are becoming increasingly important, making skin care products a must. As a result, skin care products stand to benefit from the nutricosmetic trend.