Editor's Spotlight: Startup Focus

Interactive nutrition app to put consumers in the driving seat

By Nikki Hancocks

- Last updated on GMT

getty | monkeybusinessimages
getty | monkeybusinessimages

Related tags personalised nutrition Health

An 'interactive nutrition' startup is being launched in the Netherlands which aims to pull together supermarkets, caterers and services in one highly personalised and future-friendly nutrition platform.

Nard Clabbers, former senior business developer for personalised nutrition and health at TNO, in the Netherlands, has joined the personalised nutrition startup named FoodNed to provide consumers with a highly transparent and interactive platform for discovering the perfect foods from a huge variety of food providers.

After nearly a decade of providing personalised nutrition advice to companies across the globe, he joins the startup's co-founders Raymond Schneider and Dirk de Koning in their aim to provide a way for consumers to make confident choices which are right for their wants, health needs, and moral ethos whatever time of week, day or year.

Ahead of the platform's launch at the end of this year, Clabbers tells NutraIngredients: “FoodNed is a place where a consumer can go with their personal information to get personalised nutrition advice across multiple channels – not just for one retailer, or one restaurant, like we currently are seeing.

“The consumer won’t start by filling out a lot of questions but they will start by getting to know us and understand the benefits of sharing information with us. We will look to build trust and create a relationship with the consumer in an ‘on-boarding’ staged approach. This will allow them to keep sharing more information with us in their own time as they realise the benefits of doing so.

“We call this ‘interactive nutrition’ because it isn’t just about taking data and handing over a product, it’s about gaining feedback and improving our suggestions based on that two-way conversation.”

Clabbers, who is the startup's chief science officer, says the future of nutrition innovation involves two-way conversation between the product developers and consumers. 

“It’s about consumer empowerment – the consumer will get better advice on what will fulfil their needs, in terms of flavour, price, convenience, health benefits, and ethical concerns. What’s more, their feedback to the nutrition provider will be directly heard.”

Not only will consumers end up with products specifically designed for their needs, but the products they receiving will also be in-keeping with their need-state at that particular point in time.

“This is another area where personalised nutrition is missing – dynamics, and the behavioural side of personalised nutrition. What a person wants and needs on a Tuesday morning differs greatly from what they need on a Friday night.

“Our system will help the consumer achieve that balance that everyone needs.”

He adds that this service will become all the more beneficial in the future as he believes people will be able to discover exactly how different foods impact their health through the use of digital health solutions, making them even more precise in their nutrition needs.

The service will launch at the end of this year with one supplier – an office caterer in the Netherlands – and slowly grow from there.

The caterers, brands, retailers and suppliers that join the service will benefit from referrals, consumer data, a swell as the added ability to improve and increase their offering.

For example, when the service begins with an office caterer in the Netherlands, Clabbers expects that the two-way interaction between the consumers and the caterer will allow the caterer to discover how they can improve their offering and discover opportunities to cater for breakfasts and dinner occasions as well as lunch.

Long time coming

Clabbers really has been telling companies that this service is needed for a long time.

In fact, back in 2016, NutraIngredients reported that Clabbers spoke during the Personalised Nutrition 2.0 Congress in Amsterdam and he told industry players that the progress of personalised nutrition is being hampered by the industry’s ‘lack of trust and transparency,’ in product composition and effects on health.

 “What is extremely important for the industry is the enormous lack of trust and transparency that we see today in the food industry,” ​he said during a presentation at the event.

“If everything is known, if it is known what is inside a product and its health effect on the body, that will really be a big change in the industry as we know it.

“No one is interested in food advice from the big food makers - it’s not trustworthy. We really need to think about business models that involve a lot of parties that add value to our consumers.”

He advocated consumer empowerment via tailored personal dietary advice that took into account individual parameters.

 “The behavioural scientists are people who have to translate what nutritionists have found out and apply it to real life,”​ he explained.

“The behavioural change is the thing that’s difficult - We know what we should eat but how to get people to do it is the difficult part.  

“The nutritional aspect of personalised nutrition can be used to empower people to make the right choice.”

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