Nutrition gets personal

Personalised nutrition is generating a significant buzz in the food industry, and innovators are seeking new ways to tackle the many demands of the modern consumer

"Today’s consumers are more engaged with their food than ever before," reports Lu Ann Williams of Innova Market Insights, "but every individual is different and this creates its own challenges for the industry."

Progress is clearly being made when it comes to specific dietary needs or interests. Consumer research from Innova Market Insights in 2018 shows that 9% of US consumers are following plant-based diets, 6% keto (or ketogenic), 3% paleo and 3% vegan diets.

There has been a corresponding rise in global NPD in these areas, with a 64% increase in plant-based launches between 2017 and 2018 alone, whereas keto launches rose 76%, paleo 33% and vegan 27%.

At the same time, the industry is recognising that food and beverage can also impact on mental and emotional well-being, with guilt-free and "feel good" products attracting more attention.

Between 2014 and 2018, there was a 21% annual increase in launches of products with claims such as happy, joy or fun.

Technology also has a serious role to play in the personalisation of eating. There are already apps for healthy living, including daily recipes for health-conscious consumers, while science is taking personalisation to the next level, with DNA, blood and metabolism testing now providing consumers with a better understanding of their own specific dietary needs.

And personalisation does not stop at healthy nutrition. The customisation of food and beverages is also expanding across the board for a more personal experience.

For example, many fast food restaurants allow customers to "build their own" burger or frozen yoghurt, while personal messages on food packaging, or even on the food itself, are generating closer engagement with products and brands.

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