Brand Profile

Sun Chlorella talks Japan, superfoods and the eco-conscious consumer

By Natasha Spencer

- Last updated on GMT

Sun Chlorella talks Japan, superfoods and the eco-conscious consumer
Launched in Japan in 1969 with 25 branches and offices in Shanghai, the US and the UK, we spoke to Kumiko Kumagai, Deputy General Manager of Sun Chlorella London about the power of Chlorella and the natural trend.

Why did you choose to focus your product development on chlorella​?

The founder of Sun Chlorella, Hideo Nakayama, suffered from various ailments as a result of a hard-military life.

Although he was already running a successful business, he gave this up to concentrate on making himself better and came across chlorella in the process.

Having been surprised by the results and how chlorella helped his condition, he made it his mission to let as many people as possible know about chlorella’s benefits and, as a result, Sun Chlorella was born.

What are Chlorella's specific properties and how do these benefit consumers?

From a beauty perspective, as well as being seen to be a powerful antioxidant, scientists have found chlorella that may have an ability to prevent the breakdown of a substance in the skin called elastin.

As its name suggests, ‘elastin’ is what gives our skin its elasticity, which as we get older we begin to lose resulting in the formation of wrinkles. By helping to prevent the breakdown of elastin, chlorella may be able to keep wrinkles at bay.

What has led to the increased popularity of algae-based products?

In Japan, algae-based products have been popular for some time and we are now seeing a similar trend in the UK.

As the demand for natural and healthy skincare products has grown, the UK has looked abroad to see what others are doing and has taken inspiration from ingredients other countries are using, algae being one.

Is Japan a core market for algae-based cosmetics? ​ 

Yes. In Japan, chlorella has been used for decades in beauty products, alongside other algaes such as spirulina.

How do you keep on top of the developing popularity of superfoods in the beauty sector?

We monitor research publications. We try to ignore the popular press headlines and focus on more scientific research, as some ‘so-called’ superfoods don’t live up to the hype. If an ingredient has real science behind it its popularity generally has real longevity.

How big of an influence do fruit and vegetables have on the algae industry?

It all helps feed into the bigger picture of achieving a healthy wellbeing, and that we need to begin using more naturally-sourced sustainable products, both for our health and that of the planets.

What does your current product range consist of?

It consists of Sun Chlorella moisturising cream, Sun Wakasa Gold Plus (a liquid supplement), Sun Chlorella tablets and Sun Chlorella granules (for use in shakes and sprinkled on food).

How does this appeal to Japanese buyers?

Japan is slightly ahead of the curve when it comes to demand for natural ingredients and you can’t get much more natural or sustainable than fresh-water algae.

Are you also targeting the wider APAC market?

Yes, we have a sales presence in a number of different countries, with China being a particularly important and growing market.

Within our market, there isn't a huge difference in preferences for algae products between APAC nations.

Why did Chlorella choose to expand into the UK market?

Our global mission statement is “the desire for health knows no borders”​ and the UK is one of the bigger markets for natural health and beauty products.

How is technology revolutionising the algae-based formulations?

We’ve developed a new patented production method called the DYNO-MILL process. It allows us to break down the cell walls of the algae to provide maximum bioavailability.

What are today's consumers seeking from skin care?

High-quality natural ingredients at a sensible value, in products that are suited to today’s active and busy lifestyles.

What prevailing regulatory and safety concerns do you have to keep up to date with?

As with all beauty companies we have to keep an eye on the ever-changing regulatory landscape, but we have the added complexity of not only providing skin-care products, but also oral health-food supplements, which means we also need to keep track of what’s happening in that marketplace too.

What has been your standout moment to date?

We’ve just set up a Chlorella Café in Taiwan, which is exciting and marks a totally new venture for us.

What other developments are you working on currently?

Beyond its beauty benefits, Sun Chlorella can also help those in the sports world and we’re just in the process of having our powder NSF certified for use in sports.

Where do you think the future of beauty, algae and superfoods will go?

I think ‘anti-pollution’ will become an even bigger demand. While people are becoming more eco-conscious, you only have to read about pollution levels in almost every major city in the world to appreciate it is likely to affect people’s skin in a negative way.

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