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Categorical change through personalised nutrition: How Millennials are changing what we all eat

Typically, nutritional trends evolve over time, focused on improving physical performance and to offer better health benefits. But in today’s connected world, where information about food and diet spreads quickly among digital natives, food manufacturers are increasingly having to frequently reformulate their products to meet with constant demand and changes from consumer requirements. Dominating product development is the creation of foods that are plant based, vegan or keto in nature.

According to Innova Market Insights (IMI), plant-based foods available in the market grew 64% in 2018 over 2017, followed by a 33% increase in paleo and 27% increase in vegan foods over the same period.  This is underscored by huge swings in population consumption of healthier food. In China, over half of the consumer population increased their consumption of fruit and vegetables to be healthier.

The key dietary changes are being driven by Millennials, who are consuming high protein, high fibre, plant-based diets, with the key objective of balancing body and mind. IMI says that 59% of Millennials are focused on improving their emotional health.

In the podcast attached, Thomas (Tommy) Hayes, of Lux Research Inc. in Singapore discussed how personalised nutrition is a growing trend in 2019. “I see personalised nutrition solutions varying on two spectra. One being the type of data that's being used to generate these personalised dietary recommendations. And the other is the frequency that these recommendations are being delivered​.”

With respect to the types of data, factors around physical traits and lifestyle, such as physical activity heart rate, height and weight are being used to determine dietary intake.

At a more advanced level, biomarkers, such as blood-based biomarkers for nutrient levels within the blood, are being used. Hereditary makeup and how that influences nutrition is also coming into the equation. Then lastly, and this is where we've seen a lot of innovation activity as of late, the microbial make-up in our gut and how that affects metabolism is playing a larger role in personalised nutrition. 

Hayes says that the other kind of axis is the frequency of recommendations that are being delivered to the consumer. “This can be fixed, as in, a one-time test or set of recommendations that is made. You see this with genetics, because our genetics don't change over time. Then you have tests done on a repeat basis. Sometimes, you're having recommendations being refined every three months or every six months​.”

As an example, microbiome testing companies are examining stool samples at a predetermined interval and personalised recommendations are refined on that basis. “Perhaps you get a new load of probiotics or prebiotics each time​.”

Lastly, there can be a continuous, non-stop stream of data being generated, analysed and contextualised. Usually that is via a wearable form factor that provides ongoing, non-stop monitoring.

The benefit of the trend is that food suppliers are empowering consumers to play a more active role in optimizing their health through nutrition. Hayes illustrates this, “Such as those who are fit and want to be fitter, like the ultra-athletes that really want to bring their performance to a top-notch level. Or, it could also be people that are actually in a disease, or pre-disease state and that really need to manage their disease or want to prevent that disease from happening in the first place and can do that through dietary intervention​.”

In Singapore, at Vitafoods Asia 2019, 25-26 September 2019, over 350 suppliers will exhibit the latest functional beverage and food products that meet consumer needs for high protein, plant-based, dietary requirements. The exhibition features dedicated stages, pavilions and exhibitors with technical solutions for personalised nutrition solutions, such as a Life Stages Theatre​, Omega-3​ and Probiotics Resource​ centres; as well as a dedicated stand for Market Insights​. Visit vitafoodsasia.com for further information and to register.

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