The first product from Kiwifruit Extract Venture Ltd (KEVL) was a kiwi oil that is rich in omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). This is already proving popular with cosmetics manufacturers in Europe and the US, according to chairman and executive director David Lowry, who founded the company in 2006 with Simon Spratt. But after teaming up with skincare consultant Grant Washington-Smith to delve further into the topical market, the pair were encouraged to look more closely at the specific bioactive components in the fruit. While it is well known that kiwi fruit are a good source of vitamins C, A and E, potassium, and flavonoid antioxidants, they found was that the seeds, which are not digested by humans, are a source of two flavonoid glycoside, quercitrin (a precursor to quercetin) and kaempferol. While most of the research to date has centred around topical application of the extract, Washington-Smith told NutraIngredients.com that both the kiwi oil and the antioxidant extract can be taken orally in supplement form. "I do think that this product will end up being of interest to the cosmetics, either as a topical or a dietary supplement targeting beauty and skincare," he said. So far, there is some evidence that 50mg of the antioxidant extract taken in oral supplement form can have an improving effect on skin - notably in reducing fine lines and wrinkles. "But this data is still being developed," said Washington-Smith. KEVL is understood to be in discussions with a major international cosmetics company about the use of the extract, but it would not reveal details at this time. It is clear whether this deal will cover oral applications as well as topical. A study published in 2006 (Fragr J, vol. 34;no.10; page. 69-74(2006), conducted by Tanaka Junji, Shan Shao-Jie and Shinoda Hiroshi of the Oryza Oil & Chemical Co in Japan, looked at the effects of an aqueous ethanol extract prepared from defatted kiwi seed and its constituents quercitrin and kaempferol (KSE) 3-O-rhamunoside on acne and melanin formation. They concluded that the extract "inhibits the enzyme activities involved in acne and melanin formation, and oral administration of KSE is effective on eliminating skin pigmentation." Although the major part of the study was conducted on guinea pigs, the effects on skin damage were confirmed in humans. It is not known whether the researchers used KEVL material in the study. A recent study by Kline & Company valued the global market for what it terms 'nutricosmetics' at $1bn. The company forecasts that the market is set to double over the next five years. To date, the trend has been more marked in Europe and Japan, with the North American market not catching on at the same pace.