The Israeli firm has been taking steps in the niche market of cosmeceuticals as consumers seek products which help boost their appearance. One of the newest trends in nutritional foods is the emergence of the "beauty from within" segment, which is predicted to become a strong niche over the next few years. Now LycoRed has been granted patent protection for the ingredient in Australia. The ingredient is a carotenoid composition of lycopene, phytoene, phytofluene, and optionally vitamin E, that protects the skin from the damaging effects of UV radiation. This novel cosmeceutical preparation can be delivered via a dietary supplement or in a fortified food or beverage, LycoRed said. "While up until now, the dominant means for supplementing the diet with important nutrients was via capsules, what we offer here, is quite unique," Zohar Nir, vice president of new product development said. "This is a natural lycopene composition that can be either encapsulated in a soft gel or easily added to a beverage to create a year round fortified sun protection drink. While it does not replace topical sunscreen, when taken daily, it provides a degree of both UVA and UVB protection even during months of the year when one is not likely to apply a topical lotion." OpportunityIncreasingly, companies already involved in the functional food market have been looking to spread into the cosmeceutical arena. LycoRed has already seen its fortification technology in a range of dairy products, such as the You drink by Tara, targeted at women. Wimm Bill Dann in Russia and Israeli based Solbar have also made similar moves. Indeed, a recent Datamonitor report predicted the overall European cosmeceuticals market to grow to $4.4bn (€3.4bn) in 2009, up 5 per cent from today. This includes all cosmetic products containing at least one bio-active ingredient for the skin. The journal New Nutrition Business' 10 Key Trends in Food, Nutrition and Health 2008 report earlier this year adds further weight to the importance of the beauty segment. Author Julian Mellentin said the charge in Europe is being led by the dairy sector. He said: "Beauty foods .. offer a real opportunity to create new demand in a place where there are few competitors. They are capitalising on the connection the cosmetics industry has been building in consumers' minds over the last three to four years."The single-biggest event in food and health of 2007 was the European launch by Danone of its Essensis beauty yoghurt - one of the boldest moves in the nutrition industry in recent years."