Personalized nutrition, hope or hype for the future of health?

Personalized nutrition, hope or hype for the future of health?

By
Laura Robinson
June 2, 2020

We’ve long since been drawn to food tribes. Many of us now identify as flexitarian, gluten-free, vegan or paleo - and make our daily food choices accordingly. But what if science let us take this a step further and tailor our meals to our microbiome or genetic profile?

This may all sound a bit Star Trek, but the tech is now within our grasp and consumer demand is rising. The market for personalized nutrition is forecast to reach 11.5 billion by 2025 and it’s due to grow to a huge $64bn in the next two decades.

A number of companies, including Habit, Mixfit and Baze, have been developing their offers over the last five years. In 2019, Nestlé acquired Persona and DSM formed partnerships with AVA and Wellmetrix to strengthen their portfolios in this area. This year, UBS even hailed personalized nutrition as the next big disruptor after plant-based meat.

So, let’s put this trend under the microscope and explore the drivers, the potential pitfalls and how food businesses can benefit.

What do we mean by personalized nutrition?

There’s no single agreed definition of personalized nutrition. But it is generally taken to mean the development of targeted nutritional advice, products or services based on an individual’s specific health needs.

Some companies use questionnaires or integrations with existing health tracking devices to better understand a person’s health behaviour and lifestyle. Others ask customers to complete biological tests by providing blood, saliva or stool samples as a basis for the analysis. Customers then get an overview of the findings – usually via an app or through a session with a nutritionist - and receive tailored supplement mixes, recipes or meals to optimize their diets.

And it seems to work. A study found that personalized recommendations tended to improve various key health markers, like blood sugar, cholesterol and inflammation. In fact, some experts claim that in the future we’ll hardly believe that we used to adapt our diets “blind”, without knowing what our bodies really needed.

Trend drivers: customization, technology and data democratization

Today, consumers demand customization. From our flat white with rice milk to our plant-based burger with extra guac and no onions – we expect restaurants and cafés to cater to our preferences. Combined with our growing interest in health promotion and functional, immunity-boosting foods, personalized nutrition is a logical next step.

In the past, only our doctors were able to order genetic testing or blood tests and help us interpret the results. But technological advances – like ingestible sensors and devices to draw blood without needles - have meant that self-administered tests are now more readily available and accessible.  

Finally, we’re now used to using tech helping us to live healthier lives. Our fitness wearables or smartphones tell us how many steps we’re taking or how well we’re sleeping. But when it comes to enjoying a healthy diet, two in three consumers are confused due to too much conflicting information. So, they’re looking for support to better understand how their diets relate to their family history, their current health and their personal goals.

Opportunities across the supply chain

The growth of personalized nutrition offers opportunities for a variety of food businesses. Aside from the companies that sell the tests and personalized packages or services, there are the dieticians who interpret their results and the recipe developers or platforms that create the tailored meals. Some companies are also looking to partner with food businesses that can fulfill their subscriptions directly and deliver tailored products and meals to their customers’ doorsteps.      

And it doesn’t stop there. In the future, consumers could give retailers or restaurants access to their data to enable them to benefit from personalized products or meals on the fly. Some forward-thinking companies are already testing out integrations in this space. DNAfit, for example, – a test provider - has partnered with Vita Mojo – a digital ordering platform for restaurant operators – to help customers to choose more genetically matched meals.

Challenges: Privacy, equality and complexity

While consumer interest is soaring, privacy remains a concern. As with any innovation, the legal framework in most countries has lagged behind technological developments, leaving some potential customers nervous about ownership, anonymity and consent. So companies will need to communicate transparently about how customers’ data will be used and demonstrate how the benefits outweigh the risks.  

Personalized nutrition also could significantly reduce global healthcare costs by driving a shift towards prevention. But currently the cost of the test and follow up products mean that only a small slice of the population – those who typically enjoy better health – can benefit. Companies will therefore need to find ways to reduce their prices or develop partnerships with insurers to mainstream their products if they want to use their tech to address health inequalities.

Finally, many companies offer one type of testing. Consequently, their recommendations only cover a single piece of the personalization puzzle. Experts claim that to truly tailor the food we eat, we would need genome tests, blood tests, a gut microbiome analysis – and most importantly - a clear structure in place to make sure that the customer understands how to act on the results.

Personalized supplement solutions: Mixfit and Baze

Marco Iotti wants you to start your day with a drinkable personalized package of vitamins, minerals and nutrients. His company, Mixfit, brings together the latest thinking in nutrition science, artificial intelligence and digital health and shares this knowledge with its customers via a simple app and countertop appliance. Partnering with DSM and Givaudan in 2018 gave the company the boost they needed to launch their first product at CES last year. Now, after developing its user base in the US, Mixfit is looking to become a household name in homes and workplaces across Europe.

Back in 2014, Isam Haddad and Philipp Schulte got chatting about how current approaches to health promotion weren’t working. So, as biotechnology and health industry veterans, they decided to put their knowledge and experience to good use. Four years of development later, Berlin-based Baze was born, delivering vitamin supplement packages based on blood test and questionnaire results. After closing a $6 million series A funding round last year, the team recently announced that they’ll be incorporating food products into their subscriptions, giving brands an opportunity to connect with their health-oriented consumers.

Perfectly personalized: guidance and feedback

Personalized nutrition is quickly gaining traction - and the business opportunity is clear. Research shows that health-conscious consumers are willing to pay up a 20% premium for perfectly personalized products – a fact that will put pressure on a wider range of companies to get behind this trend.

That said, solutions will need to offer customers the full picture and make sure that they can quickly and easily act on the information they receive. Our health is also constantly evolving. So products and services that build in feedback loops to show how they’re adding value are most likely to build consumer confidence and make it mainstream.

Business opportunities

  • Manufacture a product with high levels of key nutrients, like vitamin D, E, B12 and omega 3? Consider partnering with personalized nutrition subscription services to market your products directly to their health-primed customers.
  • Run a health-oriented restaurant brand or catering company? Connect with personalized nutrition pioneers to see how integrations could enable you to offer customized meals. Data also shows that personalized orders tend to be higher value and generate less waste.    
  • Own a meal delivery company? Personalized nutrition companies that are shifting from supplements to meals may be looking to benefit from your services.

Written by
Laura Robinson

From policy geek to digital consultant, Laura has always enjoyed bringing people together through words or tools to drive positive change. She is most proud of finally taking the leap into entrepreneurship by founding Pink Pear Agency - a network of passionate specialists who help food businesses grow innovative projects and share their stories with the world. Laura is currently interested in project development and management, digital tools, content strategy and copywriting.

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We’ve long since been drawn to food tribes. Many of us now identify as flexitarian, gluten-free, vegan or paleo - and make our daily food choices accordingly. But what if science let us take this a step further and tailor our meals to our microbiome or genetic profile?

This may all sound a bit Star Trek, but the tech is now within our grasp and consumer demand is rising. The market for personalized nutrition is forecast to reach 11.5 billion by 2025 and it’s due to grow to a huge $64bn in the next two decades.

A number of companies, including Habit, Mixfit and Baze, have been developing their offers over the last five years. In 2019, Nestlé acquired Persona and DSM formed partnerships with AVA and Wellmetrix to strengthen their portfolios in this area. This year, UBS even hailed personalized nutrition as the next big disruptor after plant-based meat.

So, let’s put this trend under the microscope and explore the drivers, the potential pitfalls and how food businesses can benefit.

What do we mean by personalized nutrition?

There’s no single agreed definition of personalized nutrition. But it is generally taken to mean the development of targeted nutritional advice, products or services based on an individual’s specific health needs.

Some companies use questionnaires or integrations with existing health tracking devices to better understand a person’s health behaviour and lifestyle. Others ask customers to complete biological tests by providing blood, saliva or stool samples as a basis for the analysis. Customers then get an overview of the findings – usually via an app or through a session with a nutritionist - and receive tailored supplement mixes, recipes or meals to optimize their diets.

And it seems to work. A study found that personalized recommendations tended to improve various key health markers, like blood sugar, cholesterol and inflammation. In fact, some experts claim that in the future we’ll hardly believe that we used to adapt our diets “blind”, without knowing what our bodies really needed.

Trend drivers: customization, technology and data democratization

Today, consumers demand customization. From our flat white with rice milk to our plant-based burger with extra guac and no onions – we expect restaurants and cafés to cater to our preferences. Combined with our growing interest in health promotion and functional, immunity-boosting foods, personalized nutrition is a logical next step.

In the past, only our doctors were able to order genetic testing or blood tests and help us interpret the results. But technological advances – like ingestible sensors and devices to draw blood without needles - have meant that self-administered tests are now more readily available and accessible.  

Finally, we’re now used to using tech helping us to live healthier lives. Our fitness wearables or smartphones tell us how many steps we’re taking or how well we’re sleeping. But when it comes to enjoying a healthy diet, two in three consumers are confused due to too much conflicting information. So, they’re looking for support to better understand how their diets relate to their family history, their current health and their personal goals.

Opportunities across the supply chain

The growth of personalized nutrition offers opportunities for a variety of food businesses. Aside from the companies that sell the tests and personalized packages or services, there are the dieticians who interpret their results and the recipe developers or platforms that create the tailored meals. Some companies are also looking to partner with food businesses that can fulfill their subscriptions directly and deliver tailored products and meals to their customers’ doorsteps.      

And it doesn’t stop there. In the future, consumers could give retailers or restaurants access to their data to enable them to benefit from personalized products or meals on the fly. Some forward-thinking companies are already testing out integrations in this space. DNAfit, for example, – a test provider - has partnered with Vita Mojo – a digital ordering platform for restaurant operators – to help customers to choose more genetically matched meals.

Challenges: Privacy, equality and complexity

While consumer interest is soaring, privacy remains a concern. As with any innovation, the legal framework in most countries has lagged behind technological developments, leaving some potential customers nervous about ownership, anonymity and consent. So companies will need to communicate transparently about how customers’ data will be used and demonstrate how the benefits outweigh the risks.  

Personalized nutrition also could significantly reduce global healthcare costs by driving a shift towards prevention. But currently the cost of the test and follow up products mean that only a small slice of the population – those who typically enjoy better health – can benefit. Companies will therefore need to find ways to reduce their prices or develop partnerships with insurers to mainstream their products if they want to use their tech to address health inequalities.

Finally, many companies offer one type of testing. Consequently, their recommendations only cover a single piece of the personalization puzzle. Experts claim that to truly tailor the food we eat, we would need genome tests, blood tests, a gut microbiome analysis – and most importantly - a clear structure in place to make sure that the customer understands how to act on the results.

Personalized supplement solutions: Mixfit and Baze

Marco Iotti wants you to start your day with a drinkable personalized package of vitamins, minerals and nutrients. His company, Mixfit, brings together the latest thinking in nutrition science, artificial intelligence and digital health and shares this knowledge with its customers via a simple app and countertop appliance. Partnering with DSM and Givaudan in 2018 gave the company the boost they needed to launch their first product at CES last year. Now, after developing its user base in the US, Mixfit is looking to become a household name in homes and workplaces across Europe.

Back in 2014, Isam Haddad and Philipp Schulte got chatting about how current approaches to health promotion weren’t working. So, as biotechnology and health industry veterans, they decided to put their knowledge and experience to good use. Four years of development later, Berlin-based Baze was born, delivering vitamin supplement packages based on blood test and questionnaire results. After closing a $6 million series A funding round last year, the team recently announced that they’ll be incorporating food products into their subscriptions, giving brands an opportunity to connect with their health-oriented consumers.

Perfectly personalized: guidance and feedback

Personalized nutrition is quickly gaining traction - and the business opportunity is clear. Research shows that health-conscious consumers are willing to pay up a 20% premium for perfectly personalized products – a fact that will put pressure on a wider range of companies to get behind this trend.

That said, solutions will need to offer customers the full picture and make sure that they can quickly and easily act on the information they receive. Our health is also constantly evolving. So products and services that build in feedback loops to show how they’re adding value are most likely to build consumer confidence and make it mainstream.

Business opportunities

  • Manufacture a product with high levels of key nutrients, like vitamin D, E, B12 and omega 3? Consider partnering with personalized nutrition subscription services to market your products directly to their health-primed customers.
  • Run a health-oriented restaurant brand or catering company? Connect with personalized nutrition pioneers to see how integrations could enable you to offer customized meals. Data also shows that personalized orders tend to be higher value and generate less waste.    
  • Own a meal delivery company? Personalized nutrition companies that are shifting from supplements to meals may be looking to benefit from your services.

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We’ve long since been drawn to food tribes. Many of us now identify as flexitarian, gluten-free, vegan or paleo - and make our daily food choices accordingly. But what if science let us take this a step further and tailor our meals to our microbiome or genetic profile?

This may all sound a bit Star Trek, but the tech is now within our grasp and consumer demand is rising. The market for personalized nutrition is forecast to reach 11.5 billion by 2025 and it’s due to grow to a huge $64bn in the next two decades.

A number of companies, including Habit, Mixfit and Baze, have been developing their offers over the last five years. In 2019, Nestlé acquired Persona and DSM formed partnerships with AVA and Wellmetrix to strengthen their portfolios in this area. This year, UBS even hailed personalized nutrition as the next big disruptor after plant-based meat.

So, let’s put this trend under the microscope and explore the drivers, the potential pitfalls and how food businesses can benefit.

What do we mean by personalized nutrition?

There’s no single agreed definition of personalized nutrition. But it is generally taken to mean the development of targeted nutritional advice, products or services based on an individual’s specific health needs.

Some companies use questionnaires or integrations with existing health tracking devices to better understand a person’s health behaviour and lifestyle. Others ask customers to complete biological tests by providing blood, saliva or stool samples as a basis for the analysis. Customers then get an overview of the findings – usually via an app or through a session with a nutritionist - and receive tailored supplement mixes, recipes or meals to optimize their diets.

And it seems to work. A study found that personalized recommendations tended to improve various key health markers, like blood sugar, cholesterol and inflammation. In fact, some experts claim that in the future we’ll hardly believe that we used to adapt our diets “blind”, without knowing what our bodies really needed.

Trend drivers: customization, technology and data democratization

Today, consumers demand customization. From our flat white with rice milk to our plant-based burger with extra guac and no onions – we expect restaurants and cafés to cater to our preferences. Combined with our growing interest in health promotion and functional, immunity-boosting foods, personalized nutrition is a logical next step.

In the past, only our doctors were able to order genetic testing or blood tests and help us interpret the results. But technological advances – like ingestible sensors and devices to draw blood without needles - have meant that self-administered tests are now more readily available and accessible.  

Finally, we’re now used to using tech helping us to live healthier lives. Our fitness wearables or smartphones tell us how many steps we’re taking or how well we’re sleeping. But when it comes to enjoying a healthy diet, two in three consumers are confused due to too much conflicting information. So, they’re looking for support to better understand how their diets relate to their family history, their current health and their personal goals.

Opportunities across the supply chain

The growth of personalized nutrition offers opportunities for a variety of food businesses. Aside from the companies that sell the tests and personalized packages or services, there are the dieticians who interpret their results and the recipe developers or platforms that create the tailored meals. Some companies are also looking to partner with food businesses that can fulfill their subscriptions directly and deliver tailored products and meals to their customers’ doorsteps.      

And it doesn’t stop there. In the future, consumers could give retailers or restaurants access to their data to enable them to benefit from personalized products or meals on the fly. Some forward-thinking companies are already testing out integrations in this space. DNAfit, for example, – a test provider - has partnered with Vita Mojo – a digital ordering platform for restaurant operators – to help customers to choose more genetically matched meals.

Challenges: Privacy, equality and complexity

While consumer interest is soaring, privacy remains a concern. As with any innovation, the legal framework in most countries has lagged behind technological developments, leaving some potential customers nervous about ownership, anonymity and consent. So companies will need to communicate transparently about how customers’ data will be used and demonstrate how the benefits outweigh the risks.  

Personalized nutrition also could significantly reduce global healthcare costs by driving a shift towards prevention. But currently the cost of the test and follow up products mean that only a small slice of the population – those who typically enjoy better health – can benefit. Companies will therefore need to find ways to reduce their prices or develop partnerships with insurers to mainstream their products if they want to use their tech to address health inequalities.

Finally, many companies offer one type of testing. Consequently, their recommendations only cover a single piece of the personalization puzzle. Experts claim that to truly tailor the food we eat, we would need genome tests, blood tests, a gut microbiome analysis – and most importantly - a clear structure in place to make sure that the customer understands how to act on the results.

Personalized supplement solutions: Mixfit and Baze

Marco Iotti wants you to start your day with a drinkable personalized package of vitamins, minerals and nutrients. His company, Mixfit, brings together the latest thinking in nutrition science, artificial intelligence and digital health and shares this knowledge with its customers via a simple app and countertop appliance. Partnering with DSM and Givaudan in 2018 gave the company the boost they needed to launch their first product at CES last year. Now, after developing its user base in the US, Mixfit is looking to become a household name in homes and workplaces across Europe.

Back in 2014, Isam Haddad and Philipp Schulte got chatting about how current approaches to health promotion weren’t working. So, as biotechnology and health industry veterans, they decided to put their knowledge and experience to good use. Four years of development later, Berlin-based Baze was born, delivering vitamin supplement packages based on blood test and questionnaire results. After closing a $6 million series A funding round last year, the team recently announced that they’ll be incorporating food products into their subscriptions, giving brands an opportunity to connect with their health-oriented consumers.

Perfectly personalized: guidance and feedback

Personalized nutrition is quickly gaining traction - and the business opportunity is clear. Research shows that health-conscious consumers are willing to pay up a 20% premium for perfectly personalized products – a fact that will put pressure on a wider range of companies to get behind this trend.

That said, solutions will need to offer customers the full picture and make sure that they can quickly and easily act on the information they receive. Our health is also constantly evolving. So products and services that build in feedback loops to show how they’re adding value are most likely to build consumer confidence and make it mainstream.

Business opportunities

  • Manufacture a product with high levels of key nutrients, like vitamin D, E, B12 and omega 3? Consider partnering with personalized nutrition subscription services to market your products directly to their health-primed customers.
  • Run a health-oriented restaurant brand or catering company? Connect with personalized nutrition pioneers to see how integrations could enable you to offer customized meals. Data also shows that personalized orders tend to be higher value and generate less waste.    
  • Own a meal delivery company? Personalized nutrition companies that are shifting from supplements to meals may be looking to benefit from your services.

We’ve long since been drawn to food tribes. Many of us now identify as flexitarian, gluten-free, vegan or paleo - and make our daily food choices accordingly. But what if science let us take this a step further and tailor our meals to our microbiome or genetic profile?

This may all sound a bit Star Trek, but the tech is now within our grasp and consumer demand is rising. The market for personalized nutrition is forecast to reach 11.5 billion by 2025 and it’s due to grow to a huge $64bn in the next two decades.

A number of companies, including Habit, Mixfit and Baze, have been developing their offers over the last five years. In 2019, Nestlé acquired Persona and DSM formed partnerships with AVA and Wellmetrix to strengthen their portfolios in this area. This year, UBS even hailed personalized nutrition as the next big disruptor after plant-based meat.

So, let’s put this trend under the microscope and explore the drivers, the potential pitfalls and how food businesses can benefit.

What do we mean by personalized nutrition?

There’s no single agreed definition of personalized nutrition. But it is generally taken to mean the development of targeted nutritional advice, products or services based on an individual’s specific health needs.

Some companies use questionnaires or integrations with existing health tracking devices to better understand a person’s health behaviour and lifestyle. Others ask customers to complete biological tests by providing blood, saliva or stool samples as a basis for the analysis. Customers then get an overview of the findings – usually via an app or through a session with a nutritionist - and receive tailored supplement mixes, recipes or meals to optimize their diets.

And it seems to work. A study found that personalized recommendations tended to improve various key health markers, like blood sugar, cholesterol and inflammation. In fact, some experts claim that in the future we’ll hardly believe that we used to adapt our diets “blind”, without knowing what our bodies really needed.

Trend drivers: customization, technology and data democratization

Today, consumers demand customization. From our flat white with rice milk to our plant-based burger with extra guac and no onions – we expect restaurants and cafés to cater to our preferences. Combined with our growing interest in health promotion and functional, immunity-boosting foods, personalized nutrition is a logical next step.

In the past, only our doctors were able to order genetic testing or blood tests and help us interpret the results. But technological advances – like ingestible sensors and devices to draw blood without needles - have meant that self-administered tests are now more readily available and accessible.  

Finally, we’re now used to using tech helping us to live healthier lives. Our fitness wearables or smartphones tell us how many steps we’re taking or how well we’re sleeping. But when it comes to enjoying a healthy diet, two in three consumers are confused due to too much conflicting information. So, they’re looking for support to better understand how their diets relate to their family history, their current health and their personal goals.

Opportunities across the supply chain

The growth of personalized nutrition offers opportunities for a variety of food businesses. Aside from the companies that sell the tests and personalized packages or services, there are the dieticians who interpret their results and the recipe developers or platforms that create the tailored meals. Some companies are also looking to partner with food businesses that can fulfill their subscriptions directly and deliver tailored products and meals to their customers’ doorsteps.      

And it doesn’t stop there. In the future, consumers could give retailers or restaurants access to their data to enable them to benefit from personalized products or meals on the fly. Some forward-thinking companies are already testing out integrations in this space. DNAfit, for example, – a test provider - has partnered with Vita Mojo – a digital ordering platform for restaurant operators – to help customers to choose more genetically matched meals.

Challenges: Privacy, equality and complexity

While consumer interest is soaring, privacy remains a concern. As with any innovation, the legal framework in most countries has lagged behind technological developments, leaving some potential customers nervous about ownership, anonymity and consent. So companies will need to communicate transparently about how customers’ data will be used and demonstrate how the benefits outweigh the risks.  

Personalized nutrition also could significantly reduce global healthcare costs by driving a shift towards prevention. But currently the cost of the test and follow up products mean that only a small slice of the population – those who typically enjoy better health – can benefit. Companies will therefore need to find ways to reduce their prices or develop partnerships with insurers to mainstream their products if they want to use their tech to address health inequalities.

Finally, many companies offer one type of testing. Consequently, their recommendations only cover a single piece of the personalization puzzle. Experts claim that to truly tailor the food we eat, we would need genome tests, blood tests, a gut microbiome analysis – and most importantly - a clear structure in place to make sure that the customer understands how to act on the results.

Personalized supplement solutions: Mixfit and Baze

Marco Iotti wants you to start your day with a drinkable personalized package of vitamins, minerals and nutrients. His company, Mixfit, brings together the latest thinking in nutrition science, artificial intelligence and digital health and shares this knowledge with its customers via a simple app and countertop appliance. Partnering with DSM and Givaudan in 2018 gave the company the boost they needed to launch their first product at CES last year. Now, after developing its user base in the US, Mixfit is looking to become a household name in homes and workplaces across Europe.

Back in 2014, Isam Haddad and Philipp Schulte got chatting about how current approaches to health promotion weren’t working. So, as biotechnology and health industry veterans, they decided to put their knowledge and experience to good use. Four years of development later, Berlin-based Baze was born, delivering vitamin supplement packages based on blood test and questionnaire results. After closing a $6 million series A funding round last year, the team recently announced that they’ll be incorporating food products into their subscriptions, giving brands an opportunity to connect with their health-oriented consumers.

Perfectly personalized: guidance and feedback

Personalized nutrition is quickly gaining traction - and the business opportunity is clear. Research shows that health-conscious consumers are willing to pay up a 20% premium for perfectly personalized products – a fact that will put pressure on a wider range of companies to get behind this trend.

That said, solutions will need to offer customers the full picture and make sure that they can quickly and easily act on the information they receive. Our health is also constantly evolving. So products and services that build in feedback loops to show how they’re adding value are most likely to build consumer confidence and make it mainstream.

Business opportunities

  • Manufacture a product with high levels of key nutrients, like vitamin D, E, B12 and omega 3? Consider partnering with personalized nutrition subscription services to market your products directly to their health-primed customers.
  • Run a health-oriented restaurant brand or catering company? Connect with personalized nutrition pioneers to see how integrations could enable you to offer customized meals. Data also shows that personalized orders tend to be higher value and generate less waste.    
  • Own a meal delivery company? Personalized nutrition companies that are shifting from supplements to meals may be looking to benefit from your services.

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