3D-printed supplements: Nourished taps vitamin deficiency in Middle East to expand personalised nutrition business
According to a research article by Paul Lips et al., vitamin D deficiency affects up to 80% of the population in Middle East compared to 20% to 60% across Europe.
Melissa Snover, CEO and founder, told NutraIngredients-Asia: “There are quite a few vitamin deficiencies in this region, especially vitamin D. This might seem strange for a region with abundant sunshine, but the rise of indoor lifestyles and use of traditional outfits probably contributed to a vitamin D deficiency in people living there.
“Secondly, perhaps drawn by micronutrient deficiencies, the Middle East market in general spends more money per capita on vitamins and supplements than other regions.”
Nourished is a company known for personalised 3D printing of gummy supplements.
Snover said there were not many companies in the personalised nutrition business in the Middle East region, adding: “I have been doing business in the Middle East for about 10 years before Nourished, and I trust the way business is conducted there, and I believe our products will do well there.”
Snover added that the Middle East region would also offer a good platform to reach out to other parts of the world for its centralised geography.
“We hope to set up our manufacturing facility there which can also service countries in the Eastern hemisphere such as Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea and maybe China.”
The initial plan was to launch in UAE this year, however it had been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, opting for a 2021 launch instead, alongside its US expansion.
“Ideally, we hope to launch in UAE this winter which is also the time travelers will visit. We will have to take into account travel restrictions especially with the ongoing crisis.”
In the UAE, its personalised products will cost between 150 to 175 Dirhams (US$40-47), similar to its price in the UK.
First of its kind
Snover said Nourished differentiates itself from other personalised nutrition companies because it manufactures its own products using 3D printing technology.
“Many companies are selling personalised vitamins and personalised nutrition concepts out there, but they are buying individual pills from other manufacturers, and repacking them into a convenience daily pack. It is a good concept because they made it convenient for people to get their specific nutrients without buying many products.
“However, we have taken it to a different level. We print personalised supplements on demand, and it is made on-site.”
Customers fill an online questionnaire based on existing health, lifestyles and goals, which links to an algorithm to recommend a personalised vitamin stack consisting seven ingredients.
Each supplement is then printed with seven layers, each layer representing one ingredient. It only takes five minutes to print 28 gummies, a month’s daily supply for an individual consumer.
There are about 28 different ingredients on its website, including probiotics, maca, ginseng, vitamins, minerals, and ashwagandha extract.
Snover said consumers have feedbacked that the gummy format was more enjoyable to take than swallowing pills.
Nourished products are made and delivered within three days, which also increases the nutrient density of the product to 99.5% or more, according to Snover. She explained because it was made fresh, there was no chance of losing efficacy, unlike store-bought vitamins which she said could have been in the supply chain for around 12 months.
Its products are encapsulated with a vegan gel which is readily digested by the body. There are no artificial preservatives, but Snover said they add natural citric acid from lemon for the same function.
Snover told us 98% of its ingredients were sourced from the UK, with 2% from India and US.
Besides customised stacks, the company also sells 10 pre-made stacks, which make up about 5% of its total business.
Snover said the top three most popular pre-made stacks were prenatal, plant-based (vegan) and menopure (for premenopausal, menopausal and post-menopausal).
Since the firm’s launch in October last year, Snover said sales have grown 20 to 30% month-on-month. It has also grown from five employees initially to now 31 and counting.
Asked if the pandemic affected its business, Snover explained there were no massive impact on its sales or production.
The firm operates its own manufacturing facility, which produces its personalised nutrition products as well as packaging.
She pointed out as the firm was considered a food and health business, “we were allowed to continue trading during the lockdown.”
Besides its expansion plans to Middle East and US, Snover said it is currently beta-testing epigenetics and microbiome testing to enhance the personalisation levels in addition to its online questionnaire.
Snover said it was not considering blood testing as “it does not paint an accurate picture of vitamin deficiency since blood vitamin levels will vary depending on what you eat daily. But genetics would offer a broader picture over time.”
The firm is also looking at integrating wearable technology to track activity and sleep levels to help power better recommendations for customers.