Industry gets smart: nutrition companies embracing new technology, survey shows

Almost two thirds of nutrition companies are implementing new forms of technology, with around half increasing their R&D spend this year, new research has shown

The findings, from a survey by the organisers of Vitafoods Europe (9-11 May, Palexpo, Geneva), suggest that visitors to this year’s event will discover more technological innovation than ever before.

Vitafoods Europe exhibitors and visitors were asked about six new forms of technology.

Around a third (32%) of the 192 respondents said their companies have implemented, or are planning to implement, new product testing technologies. Nearly a quarter (23%) are introducing smart packaging. One in five (21%) is exploring new tracing technologies such as QR codes on packaging while 17% have created or will create smartphone apps.

Less common forms of technology being used include 3D printing (6%) and geolocation technology (2%). Only 36% said they were not using any of the technologies on the list.

Commenting on the findings, Chris Lee, Managing Director, Global Health and Nutrition Network, Europe, Informa Exhibitions said: “New technology is revolutionising the way nutrition companies do business. Digital technology has created increasingly sophisticated ways for companies to build relationships with consumers."

"Meanwhile, companies are developing new ways of testing, tracing, and packaging their products. Innovation has always been at the heart of Vitafoods Europe, and this year visitors will have more opportunity than ever to learn about new products, new technologies, and new ways of working.”

Meanwhile, almost half the companies surveyed are planning to increase their R&D spend. Forty seven per cent said they were planning to spend more on research and development projects this year than last year.

Only 6% said their companies would spend less. One in four (24%) said their companies would spend 25% or more of their sales on R&D projects, with one in ten (10%) saying they would spend 50% or more.

Case Study: Vitastiq

One example of a new smart product being launched at Vitafoods Europe is Vitastiq.

Created by a Croatian start-up, the device communicates with a smartphone and allows consumers to monitor their body’s needs for 26 different vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.

Based on the science of acupuncture, its innovative and user-friendly concept has earned it widespread media coverage and recognition from Google Campus Warsaw.

The manufacturers have chosen Vitafoods Europe as the platform to launch the new Vitastiq PRO – specially designed for professionals in consumer-facing settings such as pharmacies, beauty salons and sports clubs. It can also be used by food and supplement companies as a tool to help sell their products.

Visitors to Vitafoods will not only be able to see Vitastiq, but also to get their own personalised nutrition reading. The product’s creator Vitastiq, Dean Vranic, said: “Vitafoods is the best place we can imagine to introduce our product. Our stand is always pretty crowded with people wanting readings, and we’ve decided to get a bigger booth this year. In fact, a lot of our customers and partners are people we met at Vitafoods.”

Vranic also believes that smart technology will become increasingly mainstream in the nutrition industry: “Technology like ours is bringing supplements closer to the users. They’re getting easier access to information related to their bodies, so the next thing they do is find out a bit more, and then buy products."

"There’s huge potential. It’s a great way for manufacturers to communicate with people at the particular moment they need you. Smart products are the standard these days. In the future, if you want to sell something, it’s going to have to be smart.”

Find out more about the range of new technology on show at Vitafoods Europe here.

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