LONDON, United Kingdom — Nestle has launched an ambitious health program that uses DNA testing, social media shares and artificial intelligence to create personalised diet plans targeting health-conscious consumers.
The initiative, called the Nestle Wellness Ambassador program, is currently running in Japan and already has 100,000 members signed up. Users provide their genetic makeup via simple blood tests to identify susceptibility to common issues like high cholesterol or diabetes, while behavioural habits are tracked through the social media messaging app Line.
Based on this combined data, Nestle provides members with a tailored nutrition plan and sends their required supplements in capsule form that can be made into nutrient-rich teas, smoothies and snacks. The program costs $600 (£463) a year.
The initiative marks strides made by the company to be recognised for products other than chocolate. Earlier this year the brand sold off its US candy arm of the business to Ferrero, acquired vegetarian meals maker Sweet Earth Foods and bought Canadian dietary supplement maker Atrium for $2.3 billion.
Head of Nestlé Japan, Kozo Takaoka said: “Health problems associated with food and nutrition have become a big issue. Nestlé must address that on a global basis and make it our mission for the 21st century.” He predicts their wellness products could eventually account for 50%Nestlé Embraces Wellness Market With AI & DNA Testing of all Nestlé’s sales in Japan.
Nestlé’s move to incorporate affordable DNA tracking within their products is further evidence of a burgeoning market that Credence Research Inc. predicts will generate $340 million by 2022 from $70.2 million in 2015.
The wellness-focused move mirrors that of other brands synonymous with sugary products. In August, US giant Coca-Cola bought the UK’s Costa Coffee from Whitbread for $5.1 billion (£3.9 billion).
In the same month, Nestlé acquired the perpetual global licence to produce Starbucks branded products across the world in a $7.1 billion (£5.5 billion) deal.
It remains to be seen if these developments are solely bids to profit from the fast-growing wellness market – last valued at $3.7 trillion in 2017 by the Global Wellness Institute – or genuine efforts by the heavyweights of the sugar industry to improve consumer health. Either way, Nestle is committed to sharpening its focus on health and wellness.
Just last week the company put its skin health unit up for sale, as part of a move to offload underperforming businesses and stick to areas it sees as being of high growth.
“Sharpening our strategic focus on Nestle’s core food, beverage and nutritional health products offers the best opportunity for long-term profitable growth and is fully in line with the pursuit of our company’s purpose,” said Paul Bulcke, Nestle’s chairman and former CEO.
Nestle has also said it will remain committed to its health science unit, which sells medical nutritional products and recently acquired a vitamin business.