Tokyo-based Wray specialises in the development of beauty and self-care brands for women and currently sells a range of products ranging from supplements for hormonal balance, intimate wash, skincare serums, and women’s apparel.
The funds will come from Kirin Health Innovation Fund, also known as the CVC Fund, established in March 2020 with venture capitalist Global Brain Co. to fund both local and overseas health and nutrition start-ups.
According to Kirin, Wray is popular among working women in their 20s to 40s due to its appeal as a “wellness brand that is close to women”, as well as its unique product development capabilities.
A main reason for investing in women’s health is because issues such as PMS and menstrual cramps are no longer taboo and are gaining more attention, especially since more women are now joining the workforce, Yurika Takano, assistant manager of Health Science Business Department at Kirin Holdings told NutraIngredients-Asia.
“The women's health care market has attracted a great deal of attention in recent years, and as the number of working women increases, society as a whole is becoming more aware of specific women's health concerns, which until now have been considered taboo,” she said.
She added that about 50 per cent of the working women have experienced problems or absenteeism in the workplace due to PMS.
Citing data from a 2011 study by Bayer Yakuhin, a 2019 report by the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) on women’s health management initiatives showed that the socioeconomic burden arising from these problems hit as much as JPY$682.8bn annually.
“In light of this background, we recognise that solving women's health issues is an important theme and would like to explore what Kirin can contribute.”
In general, she also noticed that there are now more women’s health supplements catering to needs from specific life stages, with examples being pre- and post-natal care and menstrual care.
While Kirin is unable to comment on the specific R&D or new product development plans with Wray, there are plans to build a consumer community online and also a range of wellness programs.
Since 2020, Kirin has funded nine companies using the CVC Fund.
“By exploring and investing in a wide range of potential ventures through CVC, we hope to gain access to early stage technologies, business models and networks in the health science space,” Takano said.
Last year, for example, the firm invested in plant-based meat specialist Daiz which makes its products using soybeans.
The amount invested in Wray is undisclosed.