Personalised nutrition spearheading a ‘revolution’ blending medicine and retail elements

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

A nutrition ‘revolution’ has already begun with personalised nutrition not just one of many options, but the central mechanism for preventing and tackling lifestyle diseases in the long-term.

The concept underpins the practical uses showcased at the recent NEWTRITION X. Innovation Summit in Germany that looks ahead to the opportunities and anticipates the challenges arising from personalised innovations developed in the nutrition, health and wellbeing space.

We also face the challenge of implementing personalised nutrition into everyday life. It is crucial to adapt the concept so that it is as simple as possible for consumers to understand and execute,”​ said Dominik Burziwoda, CEO of Perfood, a German-based firm, which founded the MillionFriends programme that offers Personalised Nutrition solutions.

“When it comes to the manufacturing side of things, operational flexibility is required in order to switch production processes to allow for the creation of such products. If we assume that an investment cycle is usually planned to last about ten years, then food companies cannot afford to wait. They must take action now.

“Consumers are currently unsettled,”​ he added. “They need to understand what is good for them and what isn’t. Helping them to do this must be top of the list of priorities.”

Mainstream personalised nutrition

A prime consideration in the success of personalised nutrition is consumer acceptance and uptake as the sector has suffered in the past from a ‘lack of trust and transparency​.’

As evidence of its progress into mainstream beyond the scope of start-ups and investment ventures, news earlier this year revealed that Waitrose was looking into using DNA tests to recommend or discourage shoppers from certain food items.

The initiative—DNANudge—uses mouth swabs that are then scanned from which data is then sent to a smartphone app.

With a basic DNA profile, shoppers can then be ‘nudged’ towards products based on their genetic predispositions, potentially aiding in the prevention of conditions like type 2 diabetes.

Along with DNANudge, Waitrose announced in June of a new partnership with private health care company Bupa, with plans to launch health checks in stores across its estate.

Long-term commitment

In bridging the gap between the personalised services of nutrition, medicine and retail, the move points to a way of motivating and make it as easy for consumers to effectively implement and adopt changes in the long-term – a challenge identified by Joana Maricato, market research manager at New Nutrition Business.

“Long-term commitment for consumers has always been one of the biggest challenges for Personalised Nutrition. That is one of the difficult questions for companies wanting to invest in this area.”

“Levels of motivation vary among consumers groups, so if people are already sick or in high-risk of becoming sick then their commitment to prevention or adoption of lifestyle changes that will make them feel better is higher.

“But for all other consumers, if the adoption of this lifestyle requires too much effort and change, then the engagement gradually drops.”

Retailers and consumers

The innovation summit now plans to become a regular series of events to reflect the rapid developments in the field of Personalised Nutrition, with the 2019 setting confirmed in Cologne, alongside Anuga, the world’s largest trade fair for the food industry.

Recognising the shift towards offering personalisation services Anuga’s Director, Lorenz Alexander Rau, said, “NEWTRITION X. has brought science and industry together”.

“The next step is now to jointly develop solutions to make Personalised Nutrition usable for retailers and end consumers.”

“Anuga is the meeting place for industry and retail where we can bring this trend-setting topic into the spotlight of the international food industry."

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