Special Report on Personalized Nutrition for

This special report is a collaboration with Nutrition Insight where Marcos López, Brand Manager of Monteloeder and our specialist in the subject of Digitalization, talks about personalized nutrition and technology.
Here you can read the full article.

NI.- Could you provide some info on Monteloeder’s digitalization approach in the nutraceutical sector?

M.L.- Monteloeder is a Spanish company with more than 20 years of experience developing scientifically proven health ingredients for nutraceuticals, cosmetics, and functional foods sectors. During the last 4 years, we have been working on a new concept for the industry, Digitalization of health ingredients. This new approach implies a radical mind shift on the way we develop our health ingredients and formulas. Applying agile and design thinking principles we have created our new development methodology. Our digital solutions are designed to provide our partners with the right tools to implement a consumer centric strategy.

That is from our perspective the main advantage digitalization can bring to our sector, enable consumer centricity. We have already seen this revolution taking control of other industries. Players that used digital technology to adopt consumer centricaproaches have disrupted well stablished markets gaining a huge share in no time.

Our solutions are designed based on these premises. Through rigorous clinical studies, we demonstrate the ingredient´s efficiency and consumer appreciation from the beginning. A deep understanding of the consumer´s journey is key. We use the latest mobile technologies and wearable devices during the product´s development. With this base, we develop digital solutions where product effects, consumer personal characteristics and context are contemplated. Each of our products has a mobile App incorporated to interact with the consumer in an easy, comfortable and personalized manner.

Consumers are more and better informed. They receive the right tools and support to facilitate selfcare, maximizing the product´s benefits considering their personal characteristics and context. Companies gain the ability to interact with their consumers, get insights, learn their habits and needs in order to continuously grow and improve their products and services day by day.

NI.-  What are some of the challenges?

M.L.- I’d say resistance to change is always one of the biggest challenges. Although there are some interesting initiatives out there, the nutraceutical sector stay at a stand still. It is hard to change the structure and modus operandi that are already part of a company’s philosophy and DNA. But we need to keep in mind that even if your business model is profitable, markets are constantly changing. As Heraclitus said, “The only constant is change” and you need to be ready to adapt or you will be forced to adapt.

We live in the digital era. Consumers are becoming digital. They are demanding simple and personalized solutions. A profound customer experience has evolved from convenient to necessary in all the industries. Digital customers look for self-management services, superior customer experience and proven efficacy. Companies must be ready to change and adapt to these new demands.

NI.-  In which health areas are you seeing particular potential for growth/development?

M.L.- We see a huge potential for this kind of approach to treat Metabolic syndrome. That is why one of the first solutions that we are launching is targeting this disorder. I’m talking about our branded ingredient Metabolaid and it’s related digital solution. Metabolic Syndrome is one of the fastest growing pandemics in the world. Comprises a combination of risk factors that give rise to: cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, stroke, NAFLD and cancer. Personal characteristics and habits have a strong impact in obesity-related metabolic disorders.

Metabolaid is a functional ingredient comprised of two plant extracts: Hibiscus sabdariffa and Lippia citriodora. The data collected during the clinical trials and scientific research have shown that the combination of these two plants help consumers lose weight and protect against obesity-related metabolic disorders, thereby contributing to the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.

Digitalization has opened a new path to personalized nutrition. Digital solutions like the Metabolaid app will allow to integrate the product consumption and effects, with consumer characteristics and habits, giving personal advice and support to maximize their results. Technology and supplementation working together to give consumers the solutions they need.

The mobile application can track product consumption and its effects on users while evaluating the consumer´s habits, providing them with guidelines towards a healthy lifestyle. The digital nutraceutical concept aims to accompany and support consumers in their journey and help them achieve their goals, demonstrating the product´s effectiveness and adding value along the way.

NI.-  What are some areas deserving of further research?

M.L.- This revolution is just starting. There is plenty of room for improvement in several areas. From new non-invasive continuos tracking and analysis systems (i.e. wearable devices), to the aplication of Artificial Inteligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) techniques to identify patterns and correlations in between the gathered user data and specific health related conditions. This correlations, already known at some forums as Digital Biomarkers, will empower preventive health aproaches.

The technologies currently available might not be perfect or mature, but are good enough to start this journey that will lead us to a better future. This might be seen as a handicap if you are intending to adress personalized nutrition in a holistic way. But it is instead a great opportunity for Nutraceutical brands. With the current state of the art we need to focus on narrow health functional targets that can be adressed with effective Nutraceutical products. It is a great opportunity for the nutraceutical sector to start exploring this new field, learn, improve and excel towards more holistic personalized nutrition approaches. However, technology advances exponentially and the future might be closer than expected.

NI.- Do you see any challenges in terms of consumer acceptance?

M.L.- It would be naive to think that people is not concern about sharing their personal data attending to the scandals that we are seeing in the news lately. Anyhow, I wouldtn’t say our proposal treats personal data as a currency. As we conceive it, the exchange is more like a collaboration. Users share their personal data with companies in order to receive a great value in return, personalized offers and support that empower and facilitate their selfcare. Thus, if you as a company can provide a good value and demonstrate your products effectivity, consumers will accept the deal.

NI.- How do health professionals fit in the link between more personalized/hands-on consumer approaches to health and nutrition?

M.L.- First, the development of these kind of solutions need to incorporate health professionals and their expertise. Second, the use of this solutions does not aim to exclude health professionals services. On the contrary, it can be a powerful tool for them in orther to give a better service and support to patients.

There are ways to integrate HCPs in the process. What if you could provide all the data gathered from a user with his/her HCP in between visits? The follow up would be much better. Decissions wouldn’t be taken just based on punctual data collected during the visit. The data gathered with these kind of solutions can be shared with health professionals (product intake, health data, habits, context conditions, and so on). HCPs would have more information. Decissions would be taken based on better inputs.

On the other hand, not everyone has an easy access to HCPs on a regular basis and health systems can be very busy and even collapsed in certain areas. These approach could also bring the opportunity to have better tools to selfmanage their health for those with higher access difficulties (long distances, reduced movility, low economic resources).

NI.- Do you foresee any regulatory hurdles/challenges?

M.L.- Of course, as we are talking about personal data, there will be regulatory challenges. And it will be even more delicated if we are thinking about including health data. Nevertheless, with the right data access security protocols these hurdles can be overcome.

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