Nestle Wants Your DNA, Nestle Japan is using artificial intelligence, social media, and home-testing DNA kits to create personalized diets for consumers. To provide entertainment and amusement, Nestle is doing a Personalized Nutrition business.
In Japan, some 100,000 users of the “Nestle Wellness Ambassador” program send pictures of their food via the popular Line app that then recommends lifestyle changes and specially formulated supplements. The program can cost $600 a year for capsules that make nutrient-rich teas, smoothies and other products such as vitamin-fortified snacks. A home kit to provide samples for blood and DNA testing helps identify susceptibility to common ailments like high cholesterol or diabetes.
“Most of the personalized approach is driven by smaller companies, that’s why it was fairly limited,” said Ray Fujii, a partner at L.E.K. Consulting in Japan. “Nestle is taking a further step.”
The DNA and blood tests are conducted by outside companies that give the full results to consumers. Halmek Ventures Inc. provides the blood test and Japan-based Genesis Healthcare Co. performs the genetic analysis.
Snacks to Supplements
Nestle’s program is part of a change in direction for the 152-year-old company, which sold off its U.S. candy unit this year amid falling demand for sugary treats. Nestle has made a spate of investments targeted at healthier options including vegetarian meal maker Sweet Earth Foods and meal-delivery service Freshly. The company bought Canadian dietary supplements maker Atrium Innovations in March for $2.3 billion, its biggest medical-nutrition purchase in more than a decade.
“Health problems associated with food and nutrition have become a big issue,” said Kozo Takaoka, head of the company’s business in Japan, in an interview in Tokyo. “Nestle must address that on a global basis and make it our mission for the 21st century.” He said the wellness segment could eventually account for half of Nestle’s sales in Japan.
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