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Vitafoods Europe 2023

Identifying new personalised approaches to supplementation [Interview]

Article-Identifying new personalised approaches to supplementation [Interview]

Vitafoods Europe 2023 Speaker Interview, Dr Evan Berk, Unilever, Health & Wellbeing
At the Future of Nutrition Summit at Vitafoods Europe, Dr Evan Berk, Global Director of Nutritional Sciences and Innovation at Unilever, Health & Wellbeing, will discuss current trends and recent scientific breakthroughs that aims to deliver a better future for health and wellness.

The personalisation of supplementation is a trend that only looks set to grow. Technological innovation, the increasing consumer mindset shift to health as a lifestyle pursuit, and a need for formulators to differentiate themselves from the competition is driving this sector forward.

Evan, who has worked in the consumer healthcare and nutrition industry for the past 15 years in various R&D roles, is an expert in this field. He joined Unilever in February 2022 as part of the health and wellbeing collective, as the global director of nutritional sciences and innovation, and leads a team of scientists focused on identifying beneficial new dietary ingredients. In his presentation at the Future of Nutrition Summit at Vitafoods 2023, he plans to share his insights into this fast-evolving market segment.

Evolution of personalised nutrition

The concept of personalised nutrition has evolved over time,” he notes. “Historically, nutrient and calorie requirements would vary for individuals based upon their age and sex. This would enable formulators to offer the right level of nutrition, in order to achieve maximal health.

Then came the development of benefit-led supplements, offering ingredients to support specific needs such as bone health or eye health. And most recently, there have been advances in understanding the human genome. “This has enabled further advances in delivering additional supplementation to meet specific nutrient needs of individuals,” adds Evan.

In the US, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) provides the foundation for personalised nutrition, with varying daily reference intakes (DRIs) according to age and sex. While many companies offer benefit-specific supplements based on these parameters, there has also been a rise in personalised supplementation companies offering recommendations based on questionnaires, saliva, hair, or blood samples.

Tapping new health and wellness opportunities

Evan believes that this trend reflects a clear shift in the consumer mindset, from health as the absence of disease to health as a lifestyle pursuit. This is opening up new opportunities, and leading to the development of new personalised solutions.

Previously, products may have been ‘mass-personalised’, offering a few choices for many people,” he explains. “Now, there is an opportunity to have a broader portfolio, and truly deliver a personalised solution for the individual.

This is where Evan and his team come in. “I lead a team of scientists who are learning more about the human body and understanding the role key nutrients play for specific benefits,” he says. “We have on-going research programmes in a range of disciplines including microbiome, cognition, and hair science.

It is this combined knowledge from various disciplines that will enable formulators to deliver ever-more targeted nutrition, with science-backed ingredients. Ultimately, this will bring benefits to consumers looking to supplement their lifestyles with health-boosting products.

Over the course of my career, I have seen a lot of advancement in the field of nutrition science,” says Evan. “I am excited to see what the future holds. Helping individuals achieve optimised health, and live their best life, is very rewarding.” 

Evan is also looking forward to attending the Future of Nutrition Summit, in order to learn more about how other experts see the future state of nutrition. “This is a great opportunity to bring thought leaders together, share best practices and help promote a healthier world,” he says.

Dr Evan Berk, global director of nutritional sciences and innovation at Unilever, Health & Wellbeing, will be delivering a presentation at Vitafoods entitled ‘The future of supplementation: A personalised approach.’