Nestlé’s programme is part of a change in direction for the company. File image: IOL

JOHANNESBURG – Nestlé, the world’s largest food company, has joined the trend for personalised nutrition with a blend of artificial intelligence, DNA testing and the modern obsession with Instagramming food. 

The programme, begun in ageing Japan, could provide the Swiss company with a wealth of data about customers’ wellness and diet as it pivots towards consumers seeking to improve their health and longevity.

In Japan, some 100 000 users of the “Nestle Wellness Ambassador” programme send pictures of their food via the Line app, which recommends lifestyle changes and specially formulated supplements. 

The programme can cost $600 (R8 812) 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 to identify susceptibility to common ailments such as high cholesterol or diabetes.

“Most of the personalised approach is driven by smaller companies, that’s why it was fairly limited,” said Ray Fujii, a partner at LEK Consulting in Japan. 

“Nestlé is taking a further step. They’re trying to figure out the algorithm between the test results and the genetic information and what they recommend as a solution. If they could do it, it’s a very big step.”

Nestlé’s programme is part of a change in direction for the company, which sold off its US sweets unit this year amid falling demand for sugary treats.

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- BUSINESS REPORT