Keith Nunes 2019KANSAS CITY — Personalized nutrition has been hailed for many years as a major emerging trend. Market researchers have tagged the field as the next evolutionary step in health and wellness as consumers take greater control of their diets and seek products that meet their individual needs. Giving momentum to the trend are new digital technologies and the scalability of direct-to-consumer (DTC) e-commerce models.

In 2019, both Mars, Inc. and Nestle SA established beachheads in the nascent field. Mars, for example, took a majority stake in Foodspring, a Berlin, Germany-based DTC business that defines itself as a targeted nutrition company. Foodspring offers nutrition counseling to help customers understand their needs and markets a portfolio of products that include protein shakes, supplements, snacks, bars, muesli and other beverages.

Nestle’s foray into personalized nutrition accelerated with its acquisition of Persona, a personalized vitamin business. Persona takes a consumer’s lifestyle, history and individual needs to develop a customized nutrition assessment.

Smaller companies also offer personalized solutions. This past September, the meal delivery company Trifecta partnered with health platforms Onegevity Health and Thorne to offer end-to-end personalized nutrition. The partnership gives Trifecta customers access to Onegevity’s GutBio and AgeBio biological testing kits, which deliver personalized dietary recommendations based on data from blood labs, saliva and other metrics. The recommendations are then paired with Trifecta’s food offerings and Thorne’s nutrition solutions, which include a range of nutritional supplements.

Innova Market Insights has identified personalized nutrition as one of its top trends for 2021. The market researcher sees a combination of forces, including consumer interest and new technologies, advancing the trend. A consumer survey by Innova showed that 64% of consumers said they had found more ways to tailor their life and the products they bought to their individual style, beliefs, and needs. As the demand for personalized nutrition and nutrition services steps up, Innova sees the number of offerings rising, ranging from supplements to complete diets.

Helping the trend advance will be new technologies that may be used to develop aids such as wearable devices, mobile apps, and even more forward-looking options such as artificial intelligence and genetic profiling to tailor more specific individual solutions.

“Sophisticated personalized nutrition advice is still expensive, but the emergence of digital-driven solutions allows for a similar level of service in a completely automated way,” said Lu Ann Williams, global insights director for Innova. “Advances in technology are allowing this diversification and personalization to be feasible even when focusing on relatively small consumer bases.”

Food as medicine has been an aspirational goal in the health and wellness space for more than a century. With the capabilities of personalized nutrition advancing, it seems the industry is on the cusp of making the goal a reality.

While Innova Market Insights has tagged personalized nutrition as a trend to watch in 2021, the market researcher Mintel projects it as a major trend in the year 2030. Given the rapid recent progress, it is likely solutions gaining notoriety today may seem quaint nine years from now.