21 Dec 2017 --- Carotenoid-based wellness products supplier Lycored is coming at the skincare market from an interesting angle thanks to its understanding that beauty goes way beyond skin deep. “The vision and the motivation behind becoming ingestible skincare leaders is the understanding that beauty is a holistic experience,” says Golan Raz, Head of the Global Human Health Division at Lycored.
Growing understanding of wellbeing
Lycored sees a clear trend among consumers when it comes to their perception of wellbeing.
“First and foremost, we see that most people understand the connection between what they eat and the way they look,” Raz says. “What we also see is that among the younger generation – millennials, and even younger generations – there is a very clear understanding that our nutrition affects our skin and that if we eat the right foods at the right time, we have a much better chance to benefit from a healthier skin, which then translates into a beautiful skin – the right glow, the right color."
With this growing consumer awareness in mind, Lycored sees its opportunity to educate and support its customers and also to invest in educational activities for consumers, Raz explains.
“When your tagline is ‘cultivating wellness,’ there is a lot of responsibility that comes with it. As educators and as leaders in the task of cultivating wellness, we are engaging ourselves with multiple efforts which go way beyond just what we would like to sell and we are getting our stream of income from.”
Over the past year, Lycored has initiated a number of promotional awareness campaigns revolving around the idea of cultivating a sense of wellbeing. In addition to this, the company invests heavily into research projects and studies into the benefits of carotenoids.
Just recently, Lycored announced the publication of its pre-clinical results on the biological synergy that exists between the ingredients found in LycoInvision, Lycored’s Nutrient Complex for Vision Health. Based on the results from the pre-clinical ex-vivo study, designed to assess the effect of Lycoinvision on immune cells from patients with AMD (Age-Related Macular Degeneration), Lycored will be continuing its research program proceeding with a clinical study.
The research, funded by Lycored and published in the journal Molecular Vision, highlights how adding the phytonutrient combination of tomato and rosemary to the AREDS composition, can better balance the cellular response to different challenges and modulate specific biomarkers and key processes affecting eye health.
To arrive at their findings, Monocyte immune cells were separated from the blood of patients with AMD (both men and women) and matured to macrophages (polarization to classic (M1) and alternative (M2) phenotypes). From there, each patient’s cells were treated with different combinations of nutrients, revealing the most potent combination to be the one containing lycopene and Carnosic acid in addition to the well-researched lutein/zeaxanthin and AREDS minerals zinc and copper. This combination was shown to boost overall natural protection mechanisms against different stresses and provide antioxidant protection, the company reports.
Lycored says it aims to use this ex-vivo eye health study as a way to support the innovation, importance and methodologies of such work; highlighting how a real time pre-clinical study can be seen as the glue between a notion and a trusted, finished product.
“To put things in perspective, we are breaking records in terms of production and distribution of natural carotenoids quarter after quarter, to a point where we had to stop our main production facility in August for three weeks in order to do unplanned work to expand it,” notes Raz. “The more successful we are, the more we can do what we do to benefit people.”
Ingestible skincare brings success
Speaking on the company’s Lycoderm product, Raz explains that Lycored uses a unique tomato extract that is specifically designed for ingestible skincare in terms of the levels and the ratio between the different carotenoids – lycopene, phytoene and phytofluene – in the natural extract.
“We were aiming for the ultimate mix of carotenoids that are naturally present in a tomato and added a touch of natural rosemary extract that specifically carries one polyphenol, which is carnosic acid.”
“That’s the product, that’s our core technology: the tomato extract – in that specific example, together with standardized rosemary extract. Most of our science was done in Europe. Naturally, this is where our first sustainable business market developed – in multiple countries around Europe – but at the same time we see a lot of opportunities and we are getting a lot of business attention in Asia-Pacific and in the US. We are just about to launch in Australia, we are in the process of launching in Japan and we have launched in the US with this specific technology,” he adds.
“From a regional perspective, Europe forms the hub traditionally, and now we are starting to see nice growth in the US, Japan, Australia and a few other Asian countries. Hopefully this will increase acceptance of our technology, our efforts and our scientific findings around the world,” Raz says.
To this end, Lycored opened its first office in Tokyo around two months ago. “While we have been doing business in Japan for just over 15 years, we never had a Lycored office in Japan, so we opened our first office in one of the main business districts in Tokyo,” Raz explains. “Our team in Japan is growing. We have a lot of promising activities in Japan coming up in 2018.”
“At the same time, we are just now in the final stage of executing an agreement for ingestible skincare technology with an Australian company,” Raz adds.
On top of that, Raz notes that the company is seeing a growing interest from traditional cosmetic companies from around the world that are now considering adding ingestible products to their line of topical products.
Aspects such as traceability and sustainability have over the past years become key topics for many companies and brands as increasingly aware consumers up their demands in these respects. Lycored is in a prime position to guarantee full traceability of its product as it is fully vertically integrated, which means it starts from the seeds.
“We develop the seeds in a non-GMO process and have farmers who we have worked with for years, which means we have full control from the soil all the way to the finished product,” Raz notes. “It’s very challenging because sometimes we even ship from between continents, because we grow tomatoes in different climates, so a large part of the Lycored global supply chain works with our QA team, who are aiming to establish full traceability all the way to the field. It’s way easier said than done.”
Lycored’s traceability is very high, and getting higher. “We are improving it all the time by applying software, applying more observation points and better understanding the flow of our processes,” Raz explains. “So while it’s good that there is also a commitment to improving quality and traceability, another main challenge as a vertically integrated brand is, that we need to decide on the quantities we will sell two years into the future.”
This can be challenging in a constantly changing market, because “we are planting the tomatoes and harvest them the following summer. So everything we will sell in 2018 was already harvested in the summer of 2017. It’s a very interesting phenomenon.”
“That’s the challenge of a truly vertically integrated company – if we are experiencing a very high demand, we cannot immediately generate more tomatoes,” Raz says. “We are not using tomato paste. We are not buying tomatoes from the open market. So this is a challenge for us right now: We are experiencing a very high demand that is growing truly from one month to the next, but the decisions on what to plant were taken in 2016.”
Although it is difficult to predict, Lycored understands now that its success is sustainable – and there is demand that it gets really good responses from partners on the science, the new technologies and their stability. It is, therefore, looking to expand its farms.
“It is also part of our expansion programs that we will cultivate more tomatoes and produce more natural carotenoids, and we are working now to find these new geographies,” adds Raz.
The company currently grows its tomatoes in Northern California and Israel but is looking to add a footprint either in South America or in Asia, Raz says.
“We are starting to do trials to better understand how we can add a new geography with a new climate where we have less experience. That’s what happened when we added California to our list after we started in Israel 20 years ago. Now we are way more experienced and we have a lot more technology at hand, and I’m sure that within two seasons we will be cultivating another region as well.”
“Lycored is always trying to find the next technology that will enhance our research,” Raz says. “One of our interests is to be able to identify the carotenoid level without physical intervention. This already exists, just not for the new carotenoids that we are working with.”
“Our latest effort when it comes to software is working with partners to try and improve and develop the ability to identify the level of carotenoids, including non-traditional carotenoids. Carotenoids that were less in the consensus until now.”
However, the effort is hardware- and software-dependent. “Hardware is needed for the screening phase so the skin or other parts of the body will be screened. Of course, the software and the algorithm are needed to be able to analyze the level of carotenoids and compare it to where you have been prior then maybe give you recommendations that are based on that,” Raz explains.
“Together with investing in better understanding the function of natural carotenoids in our body; we are always trying to develop tools that will help the consumer use these carotenoids that we have produced in an optimal way,” Raz concludes.
By Lucy Gunn
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