Personalisation is a growing consumer trend: the global personalised nutrition market was estimated to be worth $14.6 billion in 2021, and is projected to reach $37.3bn by 2030, according to Allied Market Research.
In fact, it’s something to which modern customers feel entitled: 71% of consumers expect companies to deliver personalised interactions, with 76% saying they get frustrated when this fails to happen, McKinsey research suggests.
Personalisation now a consumer expectation
Melissa Snover, CEO and founder of Nourished, said personalisation was just one of the benefits of using 3D printing technology.
She told Vitafoods Insights: “3D printing vitamins and nutrients enable you to create a truly bespoke product that is tailored specifically to an individual's mind, body, and goals, rather than a ‘one shape fits all’ approach, [which] is often the case with most traditional supplements.
“Our innovative manufacturing processes and in-house [new product development] NPD capabilities also allow for super-speed development, which means that Nourished can be extremely reactive to changes in trends and customer needs to enhance our product offering.
“As products are made freshly on demand, this also increases product efficacy and reduces wastage of products by only producing what is needed when it is needed.”
Efficacy ‘significantly higher’ thanks to shorter supply chain
Mass-produced supplements often have extremely long supply chains, which can affect products’ efficacy, according to Snover.
“Our 3D printing technology allows us to freshly make orders on demand and dispatch them in a matter of days,” she said. “This results in our supplements having up to 99.5% efficacy levels, which is significantly higher compared to supplements that use more traditional manufacturing processes and have been imported from overseas.
“Studies also show that certain ingredients can have a higher bioavailability when consumed in a gummy format, compared to a traditional pill. [One] study suggested that as gummies are chewed, their dissolution begins in the mouth when combined with saliva, and then continues throughout the body, which gives them greater bioavailability than pills which are swallowed whole.”
She added: “By controlling our own supply chain, keeping operations local, and manufacturing our products on site in the West Midlands, we are able to keep our costs down and deliver a premium experience at a significantly cheaper price point.”
3D printing can improve bioaccessibility
Not only is 3D printing more efficient than traditional manufacturing techniques – it can enhance the characteristics of a product.
For example, designing suitable carriers for supplements is crucial for bioavailability and safety, particularly when they contain more than one compound, as with multivitamins.
Last year, scientists from the Indian Institute of Food Processing Technology used 3D printing to create a co-delivery carrier for resveratrol and curcumin.
The two compounds are known to work more effectively in combination; however, both display poor water solubility and processability, making delivery formats challenging.
The researchers developed a 3D-printed beeswax-based medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) oleogel, adding gelatin and gellan gum to create a stable emulsion formulation, as well as mixing in potato starch and whey protein to make the carrier gel extrudable.
The 3D-printed version improved the bioaccessibility of curcumin by 1.13 and resveratrol by 1.2 in in vitro experimentation, the authors reported in the journal Biomaterials.
Technology benefits help drive consumer loyalty
What do consumers make of these innovative techniques?
Snover said: “While our 3D printing technology may be an initial attraction for consumers, it is not the primary reason they continue to use Nourished. Rather, it is the benefits that this technology enables, such as the ability to create a truly customised product tailored to their specific needs, that drive customer loyalty.”
She pointed to lower prices as another draw for consumers, adding: “We offer stacks that contain seven high-quality active ingredients for just £35.99 per month. If you were to purchase the same quality ingredients separately from various retailers, it would cost approximately £100 more.”
In 2023, Nourished plans to expand into new markets, including East Asia and mainland Europe, and a range of products for pets is in development, Snover said.
She added: “In the coming year, we are excited to offer a wider range of products to even more customers that offer true customisation through the innovative tech of 3D printing.”