Coke-L'Oreal rumours show beauty beverage potential

By Jess Halliday

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Beauty foods Coca-cola Nutrition functional beverage beverage

Beauty foods are hotting up as an area of interest for
multinationals, if rumours about a Coca Cola-L'Oréal collaboration
for a tea-based skin care drink prove founded.

According to press reports, Coca-Cola's Beverage Partners Worldwide division has trademarked the name 'Lumaé' for a product that will contain ingredients that can help women care for their skin. Coca-Cola's spokespeople are coy about the development. But an unidentified source told Brandweek that the product, tipped to emerge from BPW's pipeline in 2008, that the product will be sold in department stores rather than mass-market retail outlets where Coca-Cola's offerings are more commonly found, such as 7-Eleven. It will be aimed at "active, influential, image-conscious women over the age of 25, who embrace health and wellness".​ The rumours come on the back of Danone's introduction of its Essensis yoghurt, said to nourish the skin from the inside, last month. As with Lumae, the development of Essensis was leaked to the media ahead of the launch and was the subject of much speculation. In the past multinationals have seized upon other product development areas that started out as the preserve of small-time players, and built them up to be strong categories within the mainstream food industry. For instance, many organic brands started out as small businesses that were snapped up by bigger companies when they reached an attractive stage of development - or the big boys have made their own way into the new area, their path smoothed by huge R&D and marketing budgets. The same pattern may be emerging for beauty foods. A company called Borba Skin balance claims to have pioneered the skin care beverages market - at least in the US - with a range of waters that have been sold in department stores since 2005. Beauty foods are still too new for analysts to have put a figure on market value. But Leatherhead Food International, which calls ingestible ingredients with skin benefits 'skingestibles', hosted one-day conference in London in November to discuss market drivers and opportunities for food companies eyeing this market, such as catering to consumers' self-esteem issues. As for Coca-Cola, it has been eager for some time to build up a reputation for healthier products instead of just sugar-laden fizzy drinks. It is said to be preparing for the launch of Diet Coke Plus, fortified with vitamins and minerals. Under its Minute Maid brand (which also boasts a heart health juice with plant sterols), the beverage giant has just launched a joint health drink containing Cargill's Regenasure non-animal derived glucosamine, which recently obtained GRAS (generally recognised as safe) status in the US. Coca-Cola's BPW division is a joint venture with Nestlé, and the route through which the two companies launched their Enviga green tea based drink, claimed to aid weight management by burning calories. Enviga has been the subject of controversy, however, particularly since the Center for Science in the Public Interest initiated a lawsuit challenging the scientific basis for its claims. The product was also named as one to watch in connection with the US Food and Drug Administration's consultation last year into whether more stringent regulation on functional foods and drinks is required in the American market. Since Nestlé is a major shareholder in French beauty giant L'Oréal, it is no great surprise that Lumaé looks set to emerge from the BPW joint venture channel.

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