With margins under pressure in the stagnating food market, Nestlé is investing heavily in healthy food. In Japan, the food multinational is even testing the possibilities of a diet plan based on genetic information.
Blood samples and DNA
Nestlé’s shareholders have been dissatisfied for some time with the disappointing growth figures and demand the company to shift its focus to more profitable activities than the sale of traditional foods. Health becomes a priority: the food giant sold its American chocolate business to Ferrero, lowers the sugar, fat and salt content of its product portfolio and buys companies active in healthy niches, such as dietary supplements, vegetarian products or fresh meals.
In a rapidly ageing Japan, Nestlé takes it even further: it launched the 'Wellness Ambassador' app, which advises specific nutritional supplements based on the user’s Instagram photos of their meals. The app already has 100,000 users. Moreover, Nestlé invests in the development of home kits for sampling blood and DNA, to map the risks of diabetes or a high cholesterol level. Based on this information the app proposes a personalised diet plan to people.
Personalised nutrition is indeed a trend, but Belgian nutrition expert Patrick Mullie of the VUB (Brussels-based university) reacts skeptically in Belgian newspaper De Standaard. In his opinion, there still is insufficient scientific evidence for the effectiveness of a diet plan based on blood values and DNA. This does not solve important health problems such as overconsumption and obesity. Moreover, he says, there is a great risk of privacy violations and conflicts of interest.