The site, which Israel-based LycoRed spent nine months and €160,000 developing, provides updates about the carotenoid, new and archived research as well as product and other information about the estimated €40m lycopene market. One of the site's components will allow its co-branding partners, which include supplements, functional food and beverage manufacturers in Europe, the US and Asia, to have their products placed on the site. Turnkey approach Udi Alroy, LycoRed vice president of global marketing and sales, told NutraIngredients.com the site was fundamental to the turnkey approach it took in regard to its branded lycopene ingredients, LycoRed and Lycomato. "The site was built in response to extensive consumer research, so we spent a lot of time considering how the scientific, commercial, news and ingredient information was to be presented," he said. "We see it as a vital part of the service we provide to our customers as it will drive interest in the lycopene category which we created. Now we are trying to drive it forward to the next level." LycoRed had previously established an 'information bureau' called LycoRed.org, but Alroy said the new site, lycopene.com was more targeted, professional and dynamic and expected to garner more hits due to the fact lycopene was a more regularly employed search engine keyword than LycoRed. The Heinz company also has a lycopene information site called lycopene.org. Alroy said he hoped the site, to which consumers can post queries, would attract "a few thousand" unique visitors per month to begin with and also develop into a multilingual site with French the first language to be added. The site also functioned as a powerful tool that allowed LycoRed to "review and analyse traffic behavior." "This is a highly sophisticated information-gathering website that will provide a heightened level of insight into who buys lycopene and why," said US-based vice president of marketing and sales, Scott Larkin. "It is critical that we have these key insights integrated into our marketing strategy so that we may continue to share what we learn with our trade partners." Synthetic v natural He said one of the main objectives the website was to highlight the differences between synthetic and natural lycopene. Synthetic versions of lycopene account for about two thirds of global raw materials sales and is dominated by the suppliers BASF and DSM. The bulk of this material is sold into the US supplements market where price is paramount and giving synthetic versions that typically cost about one third of natural versions a distinct economic advantage. According to Lycored, there is greater and stronger evidence backing the health benefits of natural lycopene than for synthetic lycopene and one of the functions of the website is to emphasise this point. Alroy said natural lycopene was benefiting from the trend toward 'natural', and noted even large retailers with own brand supplements such as Wal-Mart in the US and Tesco in the UK were more interested in natural ingredients. "Natural lycopene may cost more but it can also add substantial premiums to end-products," noted Alroy. "We encourage our clients to position products as premium products and take advantage of the health benefits of natural lycopene." Lycopene has been shown to have beneficial effects on a range of cancers, as well as benefiting skin and heart health, mainly due its high antioxidant levels.