Economy

After Instant Coffee, Nestlé Gets In The Business Of (Instantly) Bigger Breasts

Breast enlargement? Botox alternative? Nestlé is expanding investment in anti-wrinkle creams, injectible gels and a breast augmentation product Macrolane that is a source of profit – but also controversy – for the Swiss food giant.

Macrolane promises customer satisfaction
Macrolane promises customer satisfaction
Judith Wittwer

All she wanted was to have her "old" boobs back – the way they were before the birth of her two children. But in opting for breast augmentation Lea Baumann (not her real name) wasn't aiming for a D cup: just an attractive, natural-looking bosom. That's why she opted for Macrolane.

A mistake, as it turned out. The gel didn't do for the 41-year-old Swiss woman what the ads promised: give her "a natural looking result without the risks of an operation." In fact, it left the shape of her breasts looking decidedly odd. Disappointed, Baumann turned to Acredis, an independent plastic surgery consulting firm in Zurich. Managing director Stephan Hägeli says he gets contacted by one to three frustrated Macrolane customers per month.

He says the complaints are always the same. The injected gel doesn't last as long as the manufacturer, Q-Med, and doctors quoted by them, claim. Sometimes, one breast shrinks and the other doesn't, and righting the situation costs money. Not that the initial injections are cheap: depending on the size of the breasts, first injections of Macrolane, which contains hyaluronic acid, cost between 4,700 and 5,300 euros. Should any problems occur within the next few months, add 2,560 euros to that.

A source of anger to some women is a source of profit for Nestlé: the company earns something from every injection. Anyone who thought that Nestlé was all about coffee, baby formula, ice cream and cat food has another think coming -- for 30 years, along with the French firm L'Oreal, Nestlé has been driving the Lausanne company Galderma, a producer of pharmaceuticals that is rising fast in the beauty market.

Galderma's anti-wrinkle cream, Azzalure, now competes with Allergan, the producer of Botox. With a turnover of one billion euros in 2010 and 85% market share, Botox is number one in the beauty sector. However, since its introduction two years ago, Azzalure has won 15% share. Galderma's recent purchase of Macrolane maker Q-Med for some 850 million euros is part of this picture. Galderma doesn't release its own figures, but for this skin-care company known for acne and nail fungi treatments, and anti-hair-loss products, the beauty market is increasingly important.

"Buying Q-Med is a direct result of our strategy to expand in this fast-growing market," says Galderma spokesperson Peter Nicholson.

Azzalure is one of the central components in that strategy, albeit not the only one: the company recently launched an anti-wrinkle gel called Emervel. Alongside Macrolane, in a joint venture with Nestlé and L'Oréal Q-Med also produces Restylane – injections that fill out deep-set facial wrinkles and plump up lips. That was another reason for the growth of Galderma turnover – 1.2 billion euros in 2010.

Just how much Nestlé is earning is anybody's guess. According to Elmar Wiederin of the Boston Consulting group, the company needs Galderma as a lab to gather experience in the wellness sector, in dealing with health authorities, and in product approval. "Those factors are also playing an ever greater role in food products,"" he says.

Werner Bauer, head of research at Nestlé, sits on Galderma's board. Bauer's job is to ensure 5% annual growth in the 3.5 billion euro beauty market. There are some risks to the strategy, as that market is often accused of bringing products onto the market prematurely, before adequate test runs are completed – which, says Acredis boss Hägeli, is the case with Macrolane breast filler.

And it's the reason Acredis doesn't recommend Macrolane; neither does the Swiss Society for Plastic, Reconstructive and Esthetic Surgery. Galderma says that five independent – albeit company-sponsored – studies have been conducted on the product and that a study to determine longer-term effects of the injections is on-going. Galderma is not particularly concerned that many women complain about Macrolane: "Everybody reacts differently to medical treatments," says spokesperson Nicholson.

Business, in the meantime, goes on. Zurich plastic surgeon Jens Otto says his Beauty Clinic has seen a "surprisingly high" demand for Macrolane; so far, some 400 clients have been injected with it. Otto sees the product as "a real alternative to complicated surgical procedures." Because it is also used to tone male chest muscles and calves, and rejuvenate women's decolletés, he sees "continued big market potential" in Macrolane.

Small consolation for unhappy patients, who face the difficult decision between risking complications and, if all goes well, annual top-up injections, or going the surgery route with silicone breast implants. Lea Baumann has almost made her mind up, and thinks she'll probably go with implants.

Read the original story in German

photo - macrolane

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!

Paying tribute to the victims of the attack in Kongsberg

Terje Bendiksby/NTB Scanpix/ZUMA
Carl-Johan Karlsson

The bow-and-arrow murder of five people in the small Norwegian city of Kongsberg this week was particularly chilling for the primitive choice of weapon. And police are now saying the attack Wednesday night is likely to be labeled an act of terrorism.

Still, even though the suspect is a Danish-born convert to Islam, police are still determining the motive. Espen Andersen Bråthen, a 37-year-old Danish national, is previously known to the police, both for reports of radicalization, as well as erratic behavior unrelated to religion.

Indeed, it remains unclear whether religious beliefs were behind the killings. In an interview with Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter, police attorney Ann Iren Svane Mathiassens said Bråthen has already confessed to the crimes, giving a detailed account of the events during a three-hour interrogation on Thursday, but motives are yet to be determined.

Investigated as terrorism 

Regardless, the murders are likely to be labeled an act of terror – mainly as the victims appear to have been randomly chosen, and were killed both in public places and inside their homes.

Mathiassens also said Bråthen will undergo a comprehensive forensic psychiatric examination, which is also a central aspect of the ongoing investigation, according to a police press conference on Friday afternoon. Bråthen will be held in custody for at least four weeks, two of which will be in isolation, and will according to a police spokesperson be moved to a psychiatric unit as soon as possible.

Witnesses have since described him as unstable and a loner.

Police received reports last year concerning potential radicalization. In 2017, Bråthen published two videos on Youtube, one in English and one in Norwegian, announcing that he's now a Muslim and describing himself as a "messenger." The year prior, he made several visits to the city's only mosque, where he said he'd received a message from above that he wished to share with the world.

Previous criminal history 

In 2012, he was convicted of aggravated theft and drug offenses, and in May last year, a restraining order was issued after Bråthen entered his parents house with a revolver, threatening to kill his father.

The mosque's chairman Oussama Tlili remembers Bråthen's first visit well, as it's rare to meet Scandinavian converts. Still, he didn't believe there was any danger and saw no reason to notify the police. Tlili's impression was rather that the man was unwell mentally, and needed help.

According to a former neighbor, Bråthen often acted erratically. During the two years she lived in the house next to him — only 50 meters from the grocery store where the attacks began — the man several times barked at her like a dog, threw trash in the streets to then pick it up, and spouted racist comments to her friend. Several other witnesses have since described him as unstable and a loner.

The man used a bow and arrow to carry the attack

Haykon Mosvold Larsen/NTB Scanpix/ZUMA

Police criticized

Norway, with one of the world's lowest crime rates, is still shaken from the attack — and also questioning what allowed the killer to hunt down and kill even after police were on the scene.

The first reports came around 6 p.m. on Wednesday that a man armed with bow and arrow was shooting inside a grocery store. Only minutes after, the police spotted the suspect; he fired several times against the patrol and then disappeared while reinforcements arrived.

The attack has also fueled a long-existing debate over whether Norwegian police should carry firearms

In the more than 30 minutes that followed before the arrest, four women and one man were killed by arrows and two other weapons — though police have yet to disclose the other arms, daily Aftenposten reports. The sleepy city's 27,000 inhabitants are left wondering how the man managed to evade a full 22 police patrols, and why reports of his radicalization weren't taken more seriously.

With five people killed and three more injured, Wednesday's killing spree is the worst attack in Norway since far-right extremist Anders Breivik massacred 77 people on the island of Utøya a decade ago.

Unarmed cops

As questions mount over the police response to the attack, with reports suggesting all five people died after law enforcement made first contact with the suspect, local police have said it's willing to submit the information needed to the Bureau of Investigation to start a probe into their conduct. Police confirmed they had fired warning shots in connection to the arrest which, under Norwegian law, often already provides a basis for an assessment.

Wednesday's bloodbath has also fueled a long-existing debate over whether Norwegian police should carry firearms — the small country being one of only 19 globally where law enforcement officers are typically unarmed, though may have access to guns and rifles in certain circumstances.

Magnus Ranstorp, a terrorism expert and professor at the Swedish Defence University, noted that police in similar neighboring countries like Sweden and Denmark carry firearms. "I struggle to understand why Norwegian police are not armed all the time," Ranstorp told Norwegian daily VG. "The lesson from Utøya is that the police must react quickly and directly respond to a perpetrator during a life-threatening incident."

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS
MOST READ