VITAFOODS ASIA 2017

Personalised nutrition in Asia Pacific: 'Industry is now at a tipping point'

New technology has the power to drive innovation in the sector. ©iStock

New players in the market and groundbreaking technology will lead to a wave of personalised nutrition innovation across Asia, according to a panel of experts at Vitafoods Asia.

However, it appears the industry as a whole still doesn’t have a clear definition of what personalised nutrition should mean or deliver.

In a panel session chaired by Nutraingredients-Asia, guests from DSM, Monteloeder and Frost & Sullivan assessed the current state of the market.

While a handful of start-ups in APAC have been formed over the past couple of years offering nutrition and skincare solutions based on a consumer’s DNA, the panelists believed personalised nutrition should be targeted at broader groups in the population, based on lifestyle and health conditions.

“I think this is where we see the biggest opportunity and also where we can directly improve the health of individuals across Asia and globally,” said Ivo Lansbergen, vice president, Global HNH Strategic Marketing at DSM.

Promising potential

Frost & Sullivan’s Natasha Telles D’Costa agreed, adding that issues such as diabetes, obesity and bone health problems among the wider population groups offered the most promising potential for product innovation.

“I don’t really think the industry has a clear definition of what personalised nutrition means in APAC and therefore nor do consumers,” she said.

“But consumers are looking for products that are personalised to their lifestyles and the existing conditions that they have. I think this is where we will see most of the action, not necessarily around DNA testing.”

All of the guests believed that new technology had the power to drive forward innovation in the sector.

Monteloeder’s Ignacio Cartagena said wearable devices and artificial intelligence would make it e easier for consumers to monitor their health and respond accordingly.

Lansbergen agreed, adding: “There is no reason why someone can’t be informed about their GI levels on their watch and be able to monitor this and take action.”

New players

The key challenge for the nutrition industry, however, is meeting these demands.

“I think we will see a range of new players enter the market and they will not be from the traditional sectors that we are used to,” added D’Costa, who highlighted digital tech firms and even the automotive industry as potential players.

Lansbergen and Cartagena said this meant the supplement and health food industry had to not only innovate, but also collaborate.

“Collaboration and partnership is vital,” added Lansbergen. “DSM, as a successful ingredient company can’t do this alone.”

There was some disagreement on the future delivery systems for perosnalised nutrition.

D’Costa was of the view that the first wave of products would be in the functional foods space, but Lansbergen and Cartagena believed there was an immediate role for dietary supplements.

However, both concurred that it would need to be based on a new culture of innovation and marketing, that the supplement industry has hitherto unseen.

Data concerns

When it came to the main challenge for consumers, it was pointed out that privacy and the safe collection of data would be paramount.

“This is one of the big challenges,” added Lansbergen. “But if that data adds a tangible benefit to someone’s health, I think it can be overcome.”

Cartagena added: “I think millennials are much more ready to part with their data and I think this is where we will see personalised nutrition pick up.”

D’Costa agreed, adding: “In APAC we are a little lessconcerned about data protection and I think millennials in particular will embrace personalised nutrition if the benefits can be properly communicated.”

The panel also called for more public-private partnerships to examine the potential of personalised nutrition in Asia.