Consumers feel that certain foods can enhance beauty

A range of foods claiming to contain ingredients that can enhance beauty are feeding a desire in consumers for a more holistic approach to health

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 September, 2013, 4:08pm

Beauty is more than skin deep. These days, it goes right down to your stomach. Instead of slathering on layers of anti-ageing creams, how about savouring a cookie to slow the ageing clock? For that blemish, try a cup of tea instead of concealer. Want to smell great? There's candy for that.

"Beauty from within" is a concept that's gaining momentum and credibility, according to Katrina Diamonon, a senior analyst with research company Datamonitor Consumer.

The products can be enjoyable as well as beneficial to their health
Katrina Diamonon, analyst

"It reflects the notion that outer beauty can be enhanced not just with topical applications like moisturisers and cleansers, but also by the nutrients that we consume," says Diamonon, who spoke at the recent Vitafoods Asia held at the AsiaWorld-Expo.

"From this idea, the market for nutricosmetics has emerged, which represents the convergence of nutrition and personal care. Nutricosmetics reflect consumers' more holistic approach to health, and acknowledgement that diet can not only support a healthy lifestyle but also a healthy physical appearance," she says.

The increased demand for anti-ageing products and services is a result of the global phenomenon of population ageing.

According to the World Health Organisation, over the next 40 years the proportion of people aged 60 and over in the world is expected to rise from 10 per cent to 22 per cent - a jump from 800 million to two billion people. In China, the proportion of this elderly age group is set to rise to 34 per cent of the population in 2050 from 12 per cent in 2010.

Food and drinks with functional benefits are becoming more attractive to this ageing population, according to Datamonitor survey results. A poll of seven Asia Pacific countries - China, Japan, South Korea, India, Singapore, Indonesia and Australia - found that about three in five consumers agree that food or drinks can provide the same or better health benefits as non-prescription medications.

In China, 54 per cent of consumers indicated they regularly buy foods and drinks products with added health benefits.

"Given that nutricosmetics are natural, they also benefit from the 'healthy halo' of natural formulations. Consumers perceive natural products to be superior to non-natural products in many ways," says Diamonon. "For example, 70 per cent of Asia-Pacific consumers believe that health and beauty products formulated with natural ingredients are actually better for them."

Asia is driving innovation in beauty foods and drinks, with five of the top 10 markets for new product development coming from the region. Japan leads the way with 19 per cent of new beauty foods and drinks launched since 2012, followed by the US and South Korea with 14 per cent each, and China with 10 per cent, according to Datamonitor's product launch analysis.

Beauty food and drinks are expanding into more diverse categories and offerings, beyond current products such as functional drinks, tea and confectionery, Diamonon says. Here are some trends that will soon be on the shelves.

Sweeter treats

Desserts, such as cookies and jellies, are a growing category in beauty food and drinks.

For example, Cowkey's Cookies from Japan makes Milcube Cookies featuring herb extracts said to slow ageing and the production of melanin, the natural pigment responsible for age spots. It's claimed that the herbs create a "whitening effect from within", which lasts for up to 60 days. Cookie flavours include lemon cheese and milk, strawberry and milk, and blueberry and milk.

Another Japanese product, Asahi Slim Up Slim jelly mix, contains 15 beauty components and claims to be a good source of collagen and hyaluronic acid, which hydrates dry and ageing skin.

"When people think about health products, there's usually a compromise in enjoyment associated with them. But by leveraging more indulgent dessert-based categories, consumers don't really have to make that compromise - the products can be enjoyable and also beneficial to their health."

Kitchen helpers

In addition to being available in ready-to-eat foods, beauty enhancers are also found in cooking ingredients.

"This allows consumers to incorporate beauty foods into consumption routines without having to add additional meals or snacks," says Diamonon.

Examples include a beauty soup from Japan which contains 1,000mg of collagen, a pink salt from Brazil which claims to have beauty benefits, and a new natto (fermented soya bean dish) from South Korea which is high in collagen.

Milk it more

Calcium-rich dairy products are already well known for their role in maintaining healthy teeth and bones, so adding beauty benefits is a natural extension, Diamonon says.

Examples include a milk powder from Indonesia containing a pomegranate extract that is said to help maintain the skin from the inside, a functional milk drink from Japan that's fortified with collagen and hyaluronic acid, and a soya drink from South Korea that claims to have a high collagen, polyphenol and vitamin content.

"Beauty dairy products take advantage of the health credentials of dairy products; people think of diary and they associate it with health, nutrition and purity. They're also a good fit for beauty foods because dairy is already rich in vitamins and minerals," says Diamonon.

Edible sun care

Sun protection is evolving beyond topical applications into food and drinks. Sunlover from Brazil, for example, makes a drink containing beta carotene, vitamin A and amino acids, that claims to promote skin nourishment and provide a healthy complexion.

"While the concept may seem far-fetched, drinking for [skin] hydration has already been embraced by consumers and capitalised on by coconut water companies, and this is closely linked to sun care," says Diamonon.

BB drinks

These drinks draw inspiration from one of the biggest beauty trends of recent years: "blemish balm" or "beauty balm" creams. They're essentially all-in-one formulations that cover multiple beauty steps - sun protection, blemish coverage, skin brightening and anti-ageing.

Peruvian tea brand Kusmi has a drinkable BB cream in tea form, which claims to cater to all of your skin's daily needs. Diamonon believes "it's something that we're likely to see replicated by other companies in the coming years".

Suck, don't spritz

Body-fragrance foods, which improve your body aroma when ingested are anotherupcoming trend according to Diamonon.

Deo perfume candy from the US, for example, is an edible deodorant containing geraniol, which is a natural colourless liquid found in plants such as rose, lavender and vanilla. It contains chemicals that can't be digested, so it's secreted through the skin's pores, resulting in a natural rose fragrance.

Similarly, Fuwarinka chewing gum from Japan claims to release a fragrance on consumption. It contains anti-ageing ingredients and is fortified with vitamin C.

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