With more and more companies turning away from traditional pills and powders, the battle is on to find the next exciting delivery system for nutrition and Steve Osborn, co-founder of food technology and innovation management firm The Aurora Ceres Partnership, thinks industry is close but hasn't quite hit the nail on the head, yet.
“There's a perfect storm going on for in-home delivery of products. Things like Nespresso, SodaStream, 3D printing, although that's maybe a stretch, but it's that kind of model where you can say 'I'm going to order a fairly specific nutritional blend for me, based on my genetics testing, so I can have that very specific nutrition delivered to me',” Osborn told NutraIngredients.
“I think SodaStream is quite interesting now because years ago it was just a way of making cheap Coke at home but what they've got is a business model that allows people to tailor their own drink. I think we're going to see a resurgence; now is their time.”
Imagine, for example, if consumers could use nutrient-rich syrups with their SodaStream, Osborn said. Not only did this play into a growing consumer desire for personalised nutrition but also the global backlash against plastic.
“People are going to reject single-use plastic bottles. So, if you've got your own bottle, then why not make it yourself if you've got a pod and you just clamp in the bottle, press a button and there's your personalised drink. It's personalised, you save the planet at the same time - it's those two things that overlay; it's that additional motivation.”
Pods and syrups that could be used with mainstream in-home beverage machines like Nespresso, Keurig or SodaStream could well be the future of nutrition as we know it, Osborn said, simply because it's familiar and fits into everyday routine.
“Drinks are possibly, probably the most natural platform because people are used to energy drinks, vitamin waters and all of those things. It is a natural delivery format and it's become the mainstream,” he said.
Consumers are used to consuming these drinks on-the-go and at specific times according to needs, he said, for example, energy drinks ahead of or during sports and beverages to help you sleep in the evening before bed.
Whilst coffee probably isn't the best carrier for nutraceuticals, he said other hot beverages from an espresso or similar machine could be.
“There's a range of products – coffee, tea, hot chocolates – all these sorts of things are worth exploring. Coffee is probably not the best medium but the coffee machine idea could be. ...These are mainstream, in-home devices and it doesn't take much to overlay that individualisation.”
The nutrition pods could be developed, for example, by third parties and sold through partnerships with the device owners, he said - “I don't think it's a huge leap”.
“The appetite and desire is there; our understanding of diet and health is increasing by the week and our understanding of our own specific health needs is increasing by the week and, you know, we'll increasingly look to address it.”
NutraIngredients recently interviewed Israeli startup Fitto, a company with a similar concept. It has developed a 'smart' bottle, pod delivery system and app to make on-the-go, water-based nutrition drinks. The bottle is designed to contain tailored supplement pods, made by third-party supplement and nutrition firms, that the consumer can select, insert and shake to make their beverage. Smart technology scans the pod, tracks consumption and links this back to the app, giving consumers, and pod manufacturers, valuable data on usage patterns.