The programme uses a portable genetic testing kit to analyse individuals' genetic makeup, lifestyle patterns and dietary habits. The test was developed in conjunction with genomic science firm Theragen Etex, and will be available at US$72 per person.
Herbalife's APAC MD and senior VP Stephen Conchie told NutraIngredients-Asia, "The tests will be administered by independent Herbalife members, using a stick to swipe an oral epithelium cell.
"The kit will then be analysed in a Theragen Etex lab, and based on the genetic data, health guidelines will be provided in a result book."
Like the test itself, the result algorithm was developed jointly by Herbalife and Theragen Etex.
Consumers who use the service will be given a detailed analysis of their genetic makeup and related lifestyle habits, as well as their BMI, triglyceride, cholesterol and vitamin C levels, blood sugar and blood pressure regulation, and caffeine metabolism rate.
Other factors, like skin ageing, elasticity and hyperpigmentation, will also be assessed.
Herbalife says this will allow it to provide highly personalised nutrition plans to individual customers, as well as to promote and sell suitable products from its own portfolio.
The service is part of the company's efforts to meet the growing demand for personalised nutrition. According to last year's Herbalife Asia Pacific Balanced Nutrition Survey, more than a third of respondents in the APAC region expressed interest in expert advice on a personalised nutrition plan.
Conchie said, "We are extremely excited to launch Gene Start in South Korea to take personalised nutrition to the next level. (It) will be a great complement to our personalised nutrition approach, paving the way for us to provide more customised nutrition solutions for each consumer."
He added that Herbalife's individual members currently offer a tailored nutrition programme on food choices, exercise and supplements, but Gene Start will allow for the development of more comprehensive personalised nutrition programmes for each customer.
Personalised nutrition has been gaining traction in APAC, with an increasing number of consumers having warmed to the idea of health and nutrition programmes tailored to their specific needs and genetic traits.
Big names in the healthcare and nutritional supplement industries, such as Novena Global Lifecare Group and Blackmores, have begun moving into the territory of personalised nutrition.
Blackmores practitioner-only supplement firm, BioCeuticals, will soon launch a range of personalised testing products meant to better inform healthcare practitioners on how to treat individual patients.
Singapore-based Novena Global Lifecare Group, which specialises in personalised nutrition by way of DNA testing, is seeing steady expansion across Asia, with a presence in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Hong Kong, Taiwan and China. Its latest development came in the form of an investment from Chinese asset management firm Cedarlake Huarong Group.
Most recently, Singapore-based personalised nutrition firm Imagene Labs made its Australian debut after experiencing sales success and customer growth in Singapore, Malaysia, China, Hong Kong and Vietnam.