Personalised nutrition is set to be the future of the health and nutrition industry, driven by the increasing accessibility of personal data as well as the demand from consumers to take control of their health, Abrahams, CEO and co-founder of health and nutrition technology consultancy and platform Qina, said speaking at the Future of Nutrition Summit in Geneva earlier this month, held as part of Vitafoods Europe.
A recent report by Mintel suggests that by 2030, almost all consumers will be aware of and will have access to their personal health data, which will be used to unlock rewards and provide widespread, personalised data-led nutrition.
Brands should adopt a holistic approach to personalised nutrition
Personalised nutrition is at the intersection of health, nutrition, technology, and society.
“It has the potential to fundamentally change the health trajectory of a person because they will know what works best for their own bodies and what is needed through data, wearables sensors, or tests,” explained Abrahams.
Personalised nutrition encompasses several levels of personalisation from omics to biomarkers to dietary preferences, lifestyles, and behaviours. While brands often think of omics, such as genome-based and microbiome-based products, as the highest level of personalisation, it is essential to consider all aspects of the consumer, not just their nutritional requirements, when designing health products aimed at responding to individual wants and needs, Abrahams said.
Evidence is mounting to show that products and services that provide holistic health outcomes by incorporating multiple levels of personalisation have a higher longevity and increased adherence, engagement, and success rates.
The demand for personalised health products is growing rapidly
A survey conducted by Deloitte last year showed that three in four modern consumers are actively seeking personalised nutrition products and services. Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, this trend has grown rapidly and does not show signs of stopping soon, with the demand for personalised health products predicted to continue rising in the coming years.
In 2021, the market for personalised nutrition was estimated to be worth around $8 billion, according to UBS. Growing by a CAGR of 8-12% annually, the market is predicted to reach $64 billion by 2040.
“The personalised nutrition industry is quickly becoming much more crowded than before,” Abrahams said.
Just under a decade ago, around 16 companies providing personalised health and nutrition solutions existed, compared to over 670 today. From telehealth solutions and personalised supplements to DIY kits, recipes, meal plans, coaching, and devices, a wide variety of solutions are now available to consumers seeking to improve their health and wellbeing.
The pandemic continues to influence consumer health demands
The market is also evolving, with a pandemic-led shift towards prevention and immunity, paired with a growing interest in gut and metabolic health, Qina data shows. Health areas which received notable investment over recent years include metabolites and therapeutics, marked by two $20 million investments in home-lab test kit provider Letsgetchecked and cancer-focused personalised nutrition platform Faeth.
Digital platforms to monitor gut health symptoms such as Vivante and Bio&Me, as well as apps allowing consumers to better manage chronic conditions including Healthie and Culina Health, have also received significant interest.
From 2018 to 2019, 63 new companies launched into the personalised nutrition space, dropping to 36 launches in 2021 and further to five launches in 2022.
“We don’t need more companies [entering the personalised nutrition market], but we need better companies that better serve the consumer,” Abrahams said.
Regarding the solutions that are on offer, around 40% of startups currently offer personalised nutrition options via consumer surveys, followed by metabolites (18%) and DNA testing (16%).
Young people are at the forefront of the growing personalisation trend
A survey conducted by consultancy McKinsey in 2022 shows that apps and services currently account for around a third of consumer health spend, but consumers are looking to increase their investment in this area. Around 45% of consumers intend to spend more on services or app-based services over the next year, while around 25% intend to spend more on products.
“Consumers today are more interested in personalised nutrition than ever before and are looking for solutions in the marketplace to help them improve their health, wellbeing, and lifestyle goals,” Abrahams said.
In recent years, consumers of personalised nutrition products have shifted from healthy, Caucasian women with a high disposable income to three main categories, Abraham explained: wellness and lifestyle consumers, optimisers who use tech to personalise their health journey, and those looking to solve medical issues.
The younger generation is driving the change towards personalised nutrition, with a McKinsey survey showing that GenZ and millennial consumers are increasingly prioritising personalised products, services, and apps using personal data. Diversity and representation however are areas that require more attention from brands. The same survey found that up to 55% of black and 39% of Asian consumers feel that the current products on the market do not meet their health and wellbeing needs.