Exclusive interview: Why personalised nutrition is 'a big opportunity and a big complexity' — DSM nutrition boss

By Gary Scattergood

- Last updated on GMT

DSM belives personalised nutrition 'is the future'. ©GettyImages
DSM belives personalised nutrition 'is the future'. ©GettyImages

Related tags Dsm personalised nutrition Gene functional beverage beverage

Personalised nutrition ‘is the future’ for dietary supplements, but there still needs to be major advances in testing, product formulation and consumer feedback before it can become a mainstream solution.

That’s the view of DSM’s Nutritional Product’s President and CEO Chris Goppelsroeder, who reinforced the company’s commitment to investment and R&D around personalised nutrition, but said it wouldn’t have a major revenue impact for the firm over the next three years.

“Personalised nutrition stretches everything we have been doing so far, but nevertheless we think it is the future,”​ he told us in an exclusive interview.

“If you want to do personalised nutrition properly, you have to do it for the whole value chain,”​ he added. “Not only do you have to create the right products, but you also need the right measurements and an incentive for consumers to do the right thing.” 

Chris Goppelsroeder

At present, he highlighted a number of shortcomings that had to be overcome, and said he didn’t believe anyone had yet found the optimal solution or product offering for personalised nutrition to fulfil its full consumer and public health potential.

“Today, there are a number of problems in that whole feedback loop, from the invasive taking of blood, to the long lead time for results, and what comes back from the lab sometimes looks like you need a PHD to understand it,”​ he said.

‘The true realisation of personalised nutrition is not yet out there, in terms of the right measurement, the right products and the right feedback that is useful for many people.”

Product development

That said, he argued it was matter of “when, not if” ​the sector would develop and succeed.

He pointed to extensive research and development across the globe in less invasive testing methods, including micro finger prick assessments, and analysis on skin and hair.

And he highlighted how DSM, and its partners, were striving to create new formats for personalised nutrition products

“We need to replace the 10 supplements you may take in the morning to something that is more targeted to the individual, has a better consumer feel to it and is linked to continual feedback – that is the new world.”

He referenced a “Nespresso-style” capsule product that could offer a morning drink containing an individuals’ nutritional requirements.

“I could see that working well in the US, where the demand is consumer –driven, but perhaps less so in some other markets,’ ​he added.

Taking Japan as an alternative example, he suggested much of the demand for personalised nutrition products could come from care homes, hospitals and insurers, all of which are concerned about the elderly population.

“It will likely be that we will need different solutions for different countries,” ​he added.

As part of its personalised nutrition quest, Goppelsroeder said DSM had invested in a number of start-ups to boost its understanding to the possibilities.

“We had two options – one was to think very hard ourselves and the other was to learn from others. We  decided the second was better.”

Just last month DSM partnered with digital health provider Panaceutics to bring affordable personalised nutrition products to the market.

The collaboration will see DSM exclusively market and sell Panaceutics Nutrition personalised products in multiple markets across the Americas, Europe and Asia.

Panaceutics uses patented technologies to combine digital data on daily habits, genomics and biomarkers.

This then drives its on-demand robotic manufacturing platform to make an individual’s blended formula, delivered in a ready-to-consume, shelf-stable packaged product.

Artificial Intelligence

This deal followed a link-up in Japan last year with DeNA Life Science, to better understand what services consumers wanted post-testing.

DeNA Life Science's strengths lie in digital services development and operations, including the genetic testing service MYCODE.

DSM said at the time that aligning this with its food and nutrition know-how could lead to more tailored and personal health solutions.

Also in 2018, DSM partnered with Mixfit, which uses Artificial Intelligence to assess a person’s genetic makeup, alongside their diet, lifestyle and health goals, and then creates and beverages containing a customized mix of DSM’s Quali Blends with vitamins and minerals.

Goppelsroeder added: “We knew that if we wanted to be at forefront of personalised nutrition we needed to partner with other businesses, in the labs and in the boardrooms, to improve our understanding.”

For the short term, however, he believes that personalised nutrition will find success at the condition level, before branching out encompass total nutritional needs

‘Take macular degeneration and carotenoids as an example,” ​he said.

“There are already non-invasive and accurate tests that can be taken and lead to very good feedback,” ​he added.

“I think we will continue to see personalised nutrition develop in specialty areas, before it expands to include all vitamins, minerals, lipids and omegas etc.

“The question will not be ‘will that happen, but at what speed?’”

The second part of our exclusive interview with Chris Goppelsroeder will focus on sustainability, and will published next week.

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