NEWTRITION X: Personalised nutrition is about more than genes

Industry experts gather at German summit to discuss new informative tech in personalised nutrition and the future of the sector as a service

Anuga in Cologne was the platform for the second NEWTRITION X innovation summit, which dealt exclusively with the topic of Personalised Nutrition. Almost 100 guests from 22 countries accepted the invitation of organiser foodRegio on 6 October to learn about new scientific findings and digital solutions, and discuss developments with leading thinkers in the industry.

In his role as chairman of the focus group Personalised Nutrition at foodRegio, Michael Gusko addressed the food industry at the beginning of the summit and demanded more courage and pioneering spirit.

Taking Germany as an example, surveys show that 73% of its inhabitants no longer believe in generally valid nutritional recommendations – while at the same time, the advantages of Personalised Nutrition have become better known. "We don't want to be the first, but we certainly don't want to be the last - that is currently the tenor in the industry," said Gusko, Managing Director of GoodMills Innovation.

Prof Dr Christian Sina, medical nutritionist at the University of Lübeck, and Prof Ahmed El-Sohemy, holder of the chair for Nutrigenomics at the University of Toronto, lectured about the scientific status quo of Personalised Nutrition.

According to Christian Sina, a study with identical twins showed that, depending on their microbiome, they exhibited completely different blood sugar responses to the same foods - and thus also different weight reactions. The aim therefore is a stratified diet that summarises these differences in clusters and compensates them with with a type-appropriate diet.

Ahmed El-Sohemy explained the influence of genes, including the way in which a person metabolises food. "Our genes also determine what food we choose," the researcher explained, using the example of the TAS1R2 gene which, depending on the variant, causes some people to have a higher sugar craving. DNA-based nutritional recommendations are a powerful tool for keeping people healthy in the long term, says El-Sohemy.

New tech

André Boorsma, Senior Researcher at the innovation network TNO, presented the concept of a digital platform for evidence-based personalised nutritional recommendations: It is based on data relating to health status, genetic factors, behaviour and personality. This data is then consolidated in a "digital knowledge hub" and processed into recommendations, which could then be implemented in a third step with the help of tracking technologies, apps and household appliances, food trade and nutrition experts.

Roland Napierala, from Miele SmartHome, and Michael Haase, from PlantJammer, presented their collaboration as an example of a digitally networked, personalised concept. The PlantJammer app allows users to select recipes according to taste, texture and refrigerator content, and combine them with nutritional goals. Their vision: to link the entire supply chain – intelligent refrigerators and kitchen appliances, personalised cooking and nutrition advice and retail.

Personalised Nutrition as a service

Another example was presented by Ignace de Nollin, from SmartwithFood, an app supplier to the largest Belgian retail group. Consumers today are worried about healthy nutrition and ingredients – so it is up to retailers to see themselves as a service provider and compass for customers, to inform and personalise their advice.

Nick Holzherr, CEO of the software provider Whisk at Samsung NEXT, wants to offer seamless and personalised shopping experiences with his solutions. He now sees the time has come for personalised nutrition based on digital services and advises companies: "If you ever had an app and it failed, try again now." Dominik Burziwoda, CEO and founder of Perfood, provider of the Personalised Nutrition program MillionFriends, agrees. In the hotly contested nutrition market, Personalised Nutrition is an effective way to increase customer lifetime value. "Personalisation means truly healthy. And loyal," he says.

Finally, Dr Simone K Frey, of Nutrition Hub, took a look at the consumer – nutrition and health are more important to him than ever before, but at the same time, in an era of social media and Dr Google, uncertainty is growing about which are trustworthy sources and which are not.

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