a&r’s News Digest – We dedicate this month’s issue to the Personalized Nutrition.

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Personalized Nutrition – A continuous Innovation Trend in the Nutritional Business

Personalized is everywhere

Personalization and customization are big trends in many different industries. Consumers are getting used to this approach and, due to the high demand, it is becoming a reality in many sectors. Companies discover that they can elevate their customers’ loyalty and engagement by providing personalized solutions. Also, “Personalized Nutrition” is an approach that seems to be on the tip of everybody’s tongue. In most cases, it is related to offerings based on selected micronutrients that are differently dosed for each individual. The level of personalization may begin with simple differentiation at the gender (male vs. female) or age group (teens, 50+ etc.) level and end at products that providing a personalized micronutrient cocktail based on individual genome or gut microbiome analyses. Between these two extremes, a landscape of products personalized for individual eating habits, activity levels, biomarkers or single genes is evolving.

Will Consumers benefit from Personalized Nutrition?

The basis of personalized nutrition is the finding that the physiological response to dietary changes or supplementation is highly variable among individuals, and what is good for one is not always good for all. Provided that the industry is able to develop appropriate products, the introduction of personalized nutrition into the nutrition landscape will therefore certainly improve consumer health and wellbeing.

Recent studies showed how impactful the influence of individual factors can be. In a study with a group of 312 volunteers receiving high-dosed omega-3 fatty acids, it was shown that many participants benefitted from the supplementation by showing reduced levels of triglycerides (TGs). However, there was a fraction of about 30 % of the volunteers that responded with an increase of TGs. This shows that dietary intake recommendations may not always be suitable for the general population, but instead need to be individualized. In another trial with 262 type 2 diabetes patients, it could be shown that with personalized nutritional recommendations, more than 50 % of the participants were able to reduce or even abandon diabetes medication after 10 weeks. Another example demonstrated that hypertension linked to a certain polymorphism (MTHFR 677TT genotype) is modifiable by enhancing the riboflavin (vitamin B2) status. In this case, riboflavin may offer a personalized non-drug approach to managing hypertension.

How does the industry deal with the concept of Personalized Nutrition?

Many companies, from start-ups to multi-nationals, invest in research on Personalized Nutrition. Most of the products currently present on the market have been developed by start-up companies that are in some cases fueled by interdisciplinary cooperations in science hubs. Recent examples are Styr providing personalized supplement powders, and MultiplyLabs offering personalized 3-D printed supplement pills. One of the most recent launches is Habit, a start-up from Silicone valley financed by Campell, which developed personalized food (home delivered), tailor-made to customers’ genetics and metabolism.

The basic idea of personalization can be divided into 3 steps: a) the individual requirements for nutrients need to be assessed by a certain technology, b) the related nutritional product needs to respond to the identified need, and c) after a certain period of time, the efficacy of the regime must be proven. There are also many different aspects that may play a role in the personalization aspects resulting in a highly diversified consumer group.

Many food companies do not have the expertise in developing technologies that allow the assessment of individual needs. This may be achieved with different means such as through dedicated apps, analytical devices, and specific laboratory methods. Therefore, collaboration between different industry sectors is needed to develop meaningful products. Typically, also the manufacturing of personalized products can be in contradiction to the usual industrial processes that are usually optimized for producing high quantities of the same products rather than a high number of different products based on individualized compositions. Currently, solutions are not yet obvious but foundations of consortia and networks may enable the industry to adapt to the new requirements. The Personalized Nutrition & Health Consortium from TNO and University of Wageningen is a step in this direction.

What is the regulatory framework for personalized nutrition?

Currently, nutritional recommendations, safety considerations, and related regulations are based on the requirements of the average healthy population, differentiated in terms of life-stage and sex group. These values have been established many years before potential individual requirements were studied. Regulators require a certain dosing range of individual micronutrients and maximum levels, which can be in conflict with the concept of personalization. Although the EU is preparing for the new era of nutrition towards 2050, it is still far away from satisfactory regulations for personalized products.

Furthermore, technologies such as wearables and apps must be validated and regulated to make sure that data acquisition and transfer into nutritional recommendations is solid. Some medical apps and self-tests are considered medical devices and have to be validated accordingly. However, there is still a large grey area. Many apps on the market are not certified as Medical Devices, and thus their quality remains obscure.

Another regulatory topic is the protection of consumer data. Consumers probably want to be sure that their health data stored in “clouds” is not misused by health insurance companies and their employers. The new EU regulation on general data protection (EU) 2016/679 will apply from May 2018 and will impose stricter rules on data protection, and it also foresees harsh penalties in case of non-compliance.

These and many other topics need to be addressed in order to increase consumer trust in personalized nutrition.

What is the regulatory framework for personalized nutrition?

Currently, nutritional recommendations, safety considerations, and related regulations are based on the requirements of the average healthy population, differentiated in terms of life-stage and sex group. These values have been established many years before potential individual requirements were studied. Regulators require a certain dosing range of individual micronutrients and maximum levels, which can be in conflict with the concept of personalization. Although the EU is preparing for the new era of nutrition towards 2050, it is still far away from satisfactory regulations for personalized products.

Furthermore, technologies such as wearables and apps must be validated and regulated to make sure that data acquisition and transfer into nutritional recommendations is solid. Some medical apps and self-tests are considered medical devices and have to be validated accordingly. However, there is still a large grey area. Many apps on the market are not certified as Medical Devices, and thus their quality remains obscure.

Another regulatory topic is the protection of consumer data. Consumers probably want to be sure that their health data stored in “clouds” is not misused by health insurance companies and their employers. The new EU regulation on general data protection (EU) 2016/679 will apply from May 2018 and will impose stricter rules on data protection, and it also foresees harsh penalties in case of non-compliance.

These and many other topics need to be addressed in order to increase consumer trust in personalized nutrition.

Where will we be in 2020?

From today’s perspective, any significant leap forward in personalized nutrition in the near future is not yet foreseeable. However, the concept will further develop, and as always in the area of disruptive innovation, unexpected solutions may hit the ground and surprise the audience. The secret sauce may lie in the power of smart collaboration models between start-ups and established companies. The main driver and ultimate goal will certainly be a perceived and sustained benefit for the consumers.

We can support you with the development of concepts for personalized nutrition or with the identification of suitable industrial partners. Please contact us at business@a-r.com.

New for 2017 is the Vitafoods Innovation Centre with a&r being the Official Innovation Partner. The a&r team will participate in the Education Programme with the following contributions:

  • The European botanical industry: Establishing the roadmap to harmonisation in Europe? – debate with the participation of Dr. Joerg Gruenwald (10 May; Botanical Workshop; 10:00 – 10:45)
  • Challenges of infant nutrition studies by Dr Felix Alt (9 May; Life Stages Theatre; 13:25 – 13:55)
  • Are there attractive claims on probiotics beyond EFSA? By Dr. Heike Stier (9 May; Probiotic Summit 14:30 – 15:00)
  • Innovation and best practice in alternative delivery options by Dr. Volker Spitzer (10 May; Life Stages Theatre; 12:10– 12:40)
  • Consumer centric innovation by Dr. Volker Spitzer (10 May; Centre Stage; 13:10 – 13:30)
  • Traditional herbal products – is innovation possible? by Dr. Iris Hardewig (10 May; Botanical Workshop; 12:00 – 12:30)
  • How to prepare for novel food applications under the new regulation (EU) 2015/2283 by Dr. Steffi Dudek (11 May; Regulatory Workshop; 11:30 – 12:15)

Alternatively you can also meet us at the Center stage during the debate, Measurable health: the final goal of the nutrition industry with the participation of Dr. Iris Hardewig (10 May; 16:00)

a&r comments: Please visit the full Vitafoods Education Programme for more detailed information about our talks. We can offer you a 25% discount on delegate passes for the Education Programme. If you are interested, please get in touch with us at business@a-r.com.

Questions related to Regulation, Scientific Marketing, Strategic Innovation, Licensing Matchmaking or Clinical Research Services? You can pre-book a free 20 minutes consultation with us or just visit us at booth E84 during Vitafoods Europe.

And the finalists are…

The shortlist of finalists for the third edition of NutraIngredients Awards was recently announced. The winners will be announced in Geneva during Vitafoods Europe on Wednesday 10th May. For the full list please have a look at: http://www.nutraingredients-awards.com/award-categories/2017-finalists/

a&r comments: We are excited to announce that a&r is one of the three finalist of this year NutraIngredients awards under the category “Service Provider of the Year”.

Business Development Manager (m/f, full-time)

The Business Development Manager (BDM) is an integral member of our team in Berlin and provides important support in realizing our company’s business strategy and reaching our company’s goals. Acting as the primary point of contact for new clients, the BDM provides sustainable customer relationship management while liaising with the scientific and operational teams internally. Whilst a&r’s service portfolio is broad, the BDM is eager on knowledge and keen on carving out clients’ needs and requirements.

Interesting? Curious? Ready for something exciting? We look forward to your application!
Please find more information at https://www.a-r.com/front-page/company/jobs/

Irene Wohlfahrt
Irene WohlfahrtSenior Consultant
Dr. Inês Rocha
Dr. Inês RochaScientific Consultant

At analyze & realize, we are experts in the field of natural health products, having provided our services for more than 20 years. We offer a unique combination of expertise in natural health products through our scientific, regulatory, and strategic innovation consulting and our clinical research organization with its own clinical trial center in Berlin, Germany. Thanks to our close interaction with the natural product market as well as our extensive network, we are always at the forefront of the latest information and innovation trends. With its international team of 35 employees, a&r is a leading European one-stop-shop ready to guide and support your needs in natural health product innovation.

Don’t hesitate to contact us: newsletter@a-r.com