The market analyst claims that nutritional genomics, known as nutrigenomics, plays into consumers’ sense of individuality and self-expression. Nutrigenomics is the study of how nutrition influences gene expression, and purports to examine how different nutrients are absorbed, metabolized or eliminated according to a person’s individual genetic make up.
Datamonitor conducted an international survey in July and August 2010 in order to assess consumer interest in using genetic information to guide nutritional choices. It found that among Americans, 55 percent found the idea either very or somewhat appealing, up 11 percent from its previous survey on the subject, conducted in August 2008.
Datamonitor analyst Mark Whalley said: “Consumers have always wanted food and beverages which cater to their individual needs. However, it is only in the past few years that manufacturers have really woken up to this fact and begun to create grocery products that consumers really feel identify with their personal attitudes and requirements. They are constantly asking themselves ‘what does this product say about me and how does it specifically benefit me?’”
He added that Datamonitor research has shown that 74 percent of US consumers attach importance to the concept of individuality and being able to express themselves.
The market research organization claims that it is “inevitable” that nutrigenomics will come to the fore to address consumers’ desire for individualized nutrition, and said that one area of particular interest would be foods and drinks designed to deal with certain health conditions.
The study of nutrigenomics is still in its infancy, but it is hoped that it could have a major impact on the development of tailor-made food and beverage products in the future, whether they are designed to strengthen a weakened immune system, for example, or to taste better to consumers through determination of genetic flavor preferences.
Smaller companies to lead
Whalley said that smaller, niche companies are likely to lead the way, with larger brands waiting to see what products are launched and how they are received by consumers.
“As interest amongst consumers increases, we expect to see a surge in the number of food and drink companies launching products with DNA/genetic influences over the next few years,” he said.
Internationally, Datamonitor found that Brazilians (71 percent) and South Africans (70 percent) were most likely to find the concept of using nutrigenomics to create personalized nutrition appealing, while the Dutch (26 percent) and Germans (34 percent) were least likely to like the idea.