Mariette Abrahams, the CEO & Founder of Qina, says there's big opportunities in the personalised nutrition industry for those with their finger on the pulse.
"To remain competitive, companies must stay informed about industry developments, innovations, and consumer preferences," she says. "Data management, security and utilization will play a significant role in adapting to changing search and product discovery behaviours."
In the firm's newly released biannual top trends report, Abrahams draws attention to the new tech and capabilities being put in consumers' hands and the economic and ethical questions these raise for the nutrition industry.
Trend #1: Big Tech Enters Personalised Nutrition
Companies like Apple and Google are making significant strides in personalised nutrition, partnering with healthcare providers and offering personalised recommendations based on user data. This convergence of technology and healthcare provides deeper insights into the impact of daily lives on long-term health.
Google Health, for example, is promising to help everyone, everywhere be healthier through products and services that connect and bring meaning to health information.
FitnessPal, Oura and Peloton, are a few of the brands that have joined the new Google Health Connect App which offers consumers a simple way to store and connect the data between health and fitness apps, without compromising on privacy.
Google states: "We’re building products to empower people with the information they need to act on their health. We’re developing technology solutions to enable care teams to deliver more connected care. And we’re exploring the use of artificial intelligence to assist in diagnosing cancer, preventing blindness and much more."
Abrahams says apps like this will "really shift things" and warns that personalised nutrition companies must adapt and partner with big tech companies to remain competitive and reach a larger consumer base. Building quality relationships with consumers and providing effective products and services will be crucial in this evolving landscape.
Trend #2: Blood Beyond Clinic Borders
Home blood collection through DIY kits and blood draw devices is gaining popularity, allowing consumers to provide blood samples from the comfort of their homes. This trend is driven by advancements in technology and the increasing accessibility and affordability of testing services.
This has now moved beyond blood spot checks, with Thorne just recently having their blood draw device OneDraw approved in the EU.
The ability of consumers to draw blood samples at home opens the ability to analyse a wider range of health biomarkers and gain insights into areas such as liver and thyroid function.
Abrahams advises: "Companies should stay informed about innovations in blood draw technology and understand how customers use these devices to gain insights into their health. Regulatory oversight may be necessary to ensure accurate interpretation of blood test results."
Trend #3: Food Over Matter
After the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers have become more interested in food, not just for good nutrition but as medicine. Meal planning and recipe platforms have gained popularity, surpassing supplements as the most added service in personalised nutrition companies.
"Companies should prioritize providing easily accessible information on products, nutritional content, and ingredients," advises Abrahams. "Meeting taste preferences and cultural preferences will enhance the effectiveness of meal kits as a tool for improving health."
Trend #4: FemTech Moving Beyond Menopause & Fertility
FemTech is expanding beyond menopause and fertility tracking to address medical conditions such as thyroid disease and PCOS.
Startups are developing data-driven approaches and natural alternatives to medical treatments, catering to women's health needs across different life stages.
Abrahams suggests the inclusion of nutrition in Femtech solutions presents significant opportunities for digital therapeutics, apps, and products.
"Women's health is a growing market with immense potential for new offerings," she adds.
Trend #5: Weight Loss Goes All Medical
The weight loss industry is undergoing a transformation, with consumers seeking holistic solutions for overall health. At the same time, the worsening global metabolic health crisis has led to an increase in demand for quick weight loss solutions. Companies are adapting by offering personalized programs, behavioural change coaching, and access to healthcare professionals all in one space, creating a more medical approach to a previously lifestyle focused service.
For example, WeightWatchers has acquired Weekend Health, the corporate name of Sequence. Clinicians use the platform to provide clinical care, including prescriptions, for patients navigating chronic weight management.
Also, Noom has extended its offering with Noom Med - a program that combines a suite of telehealth services with Noom's personalized psychological tools for lasting weight loss. It has also added Ozempic and other weight loss injectables to its suite of advice and solutions.
"The industry must address the rising rates of metabolic diseases by providing comprehensive solutions that include apps, devices, wearables, and even medications," says Abrahams. "A personalized approach is essential to meet consumers' diverse needs and achieve long-term health goals."
Want to learn more?
Mariette Abrahams will be speaking at NutraIngredients' Active Nutrition Summit in Amsterdam this October. She will speak as part of a morning of panels and presentations devoted to the topic of personalised nutrition, with insights provided from several of the top thought leaders in this space.
Other topics of discussion at the three day conference will include: women's health, with speakers discussing how women's and men's nutrition needs differ and how products and services can better cater to this audience; cognitive health, with experts providing the latest science on how nutrition can influence a range of brain health parameters; and life stages nutrition, with insights into the nutrition needs of both young and older athletes.
Trend #6: A Nutrigenetics Comeback?
DNA startups are emerging, indicating a renewed interest in the field and epigenetics-based solutions focusing on longevity and beauty have taken over the space showing that the landscape is evolving beyond looking at the basics of inherited genetics.
Services are looking at epigenetics, which considers the interaction between genetics and the environment and how genes change over time.
UK-based Mudho, for example, is offerings epigenetics profiling to consumers to allow them to monitor epigenetics on a regular basis as an "advanced wellness tool".
"The increase in DNA-related services may be driven by the popularity of epigenetics and beauty-focused solutions," says Abrahams. "Further research is needed to understand the impact and potential of these offerings."
Trend #7: ChatGPT Everything
Several personalised nutrition brands are integrating ChatGPT technology to enhance customer experiences and provide instant information. This trend is expected to continue, making expert knowledge more accessible.
Nutrition AI chat experts at Suggestic, in the US, have even entered the arena solely to provide personalised nutrition companies with this capability.
"People are overwhelmed with information currently so it's much easier for them if they can just ask a question and get a consolidated answer," says Abrahams, but she notes that this does raise questions around the lack of regulation on ChatGPT generated information and a risk of consumers loosing trust in the information they are presented with.
"ChatGPT generated information should always be labelled as such so the consumer knows it hasn't been vetted by an expert. Transparency and accountability are crucial."
Qina has also just added a Chat interface to its Qina Ver platform, under 'ask magic prompt', allowing users to ask questions and gain answers from its repository of all the data Qina Ver has ever created. Not only does the Chat function provide a curated answer but it also provides links to all the reference articles on the platform for further reading.
Trend #8: Postbiotics
Postbiotics, generated during microbial activity, are gaining attention in scientific publications and investments. These substances have positive effects on gut health and inflammation reduction.
"Although there is still scientific uncertainty surrounding postbiotics, their relevance in improving gut health is evident," Abrahams says. "Companies should monitor this trend and develop products that cater to consumer demand for improved gut health."
Trend #9: Metabolic Health
Metabolic health has become a prominent topic in the industry, driven by worsening global trends. The integration of Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGMs) into products and wearables is increasing, providing users with valuable insights into their metabolic health.
Abrahams says there has been a notable rise in investments in this space.
"This trend indicates a shift toward mainstream adoption of metabolic health solutions. Startups are conducting research to contribute to the evidence base and pave the way for reimbursement and new partnerships. The future of health relies on accurate, accessible, and affordable devices.
Trend #10: What "Supp" with One-a-Day?
Consumers are seeking alternatives to multiple pill packs, leading to a trend of personalised one-dose nutritional supplements. Companies are exploring innovative approaches such as 3D printing and personalized powdered supplements to provide consumers with all their daily supplements in one convenient hit.
"The shift towards holistic health and wellness drives the demand for personalised nutrition supplements. Healthcare professionals play a crucial role in ensuring responsible supplement use aligned with measurable health goals," Abrahams notes.