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Q&A: How Personalized Nutrition Influences Functional Foods, Beverages and Supplements

Q&A with Satya Jonnalagadda, Ph.D., MBA, RD.

Personalized nutrition is on the rise and consumers are turning to products that offer health benefits targeted at their lifestyles and nutritional needs. We asked Kerry’s Director of Global Nutrition Science, Satya Jonnalagadda, Ph.D., MBA, RD, a few questions about some of the trends, challenges and science behind creating functional products that meet the demand for a more customized nutritional approach.

What is your definition of personalized nutrition and why is it important?

Consumers are looking to take back control of what they buy, eat and do.  They want to feel empowered and confident to create their own diet and health choices; technology and changing dietary advice is influencing this change.  Personalization and customization are at the forefront to address these consumer needs.

Personalized nutrition focuses on consumer-specific nutritional needs, which can include infant and toddler nutrition, performance nutrition, and healthy aging. Often created with functional ingredients, these types of “tailored for you” food, beverages and supplements are becoming a trend for a growing consumer base that is taking a “self-care” approach to their health.

How are consumer’s attitudes and purchasing behaviors affecting product development?

Today’s consumer has embraced a more holistic approach to looking after their well-being, which increasingly focuses on peace of mind as well as the body. From health concerns driven by cleaner and overall healthier lifestyles, to environmental issues, such as responsibly sourced and manufactured food & beverage, bringing “peace of mind” is key.

For about half the population, the idea that each of us is unique and therefore has unique nutritional and metabolic needs is becoming an accepted fact.  We are seeing the rapid convergence of food and pharma. Food science, medical science, and big data are coming together to provide preventative nutritious solutions. We are in the era of lifestyle personalization while science-based personalization is still in its infancy phase.

Consumers are smarter, more skeptical, and much more selective than previously seen, which is causing them to pay more attention to nutritional ingredients in their foods and beverages. So for me, one of the most intriguing parts of personalized nutrition is that consumers drive this trend, and manufacturers are trying to catch-up with demand. Overall, this shift in consumer’s attitudes is putting higher pressure on food and beverage manufacturers to align their product offerings with consumer interests and values.

Convenience is also driving customization, and we see an expansion in new delivery formats. Gummies, shots, nutritional beverages and bars are all in high demand, leading product manufactures to look at innovative ways to create innovative products with targeted health benefits.

Taste is also playing an important role because while consumers are looking for proven health benefits with convenient delivery formats, taste remains the number one purchase driver. The opportunity here is to create a great tasting product that meets personalized nutritional needs through a holistic approach that not only focuses on nutrition science but also addresses taste, sensory and application development.

Functional ingredients are used to create personalized food, beverages and supplements. What makes a quality functional ingredient?

Depending on their lifestyle needs, consumers are looking for different benefits. Some of these benefits include weight management, cardiovascular health, energy, digestive health and immune health. But one thing remains the same across any tailored functional product that offers health benefits – successful products will start with clinically demonstrated functional ingredients that have demonstrable benefits for specific lifestyle and life stage needs.

87% of consumers are interested in purchasing foods and beverages with immune health benefits, but some consumers are slower to purchase. Why? Learn more via our infographic, here.


Why is science important?

Personalized nutrition is the result of advances in nutritional science and understanding how diet affects health. Innovation in technology, science, and nutrition is helping to deliver a range of functional food, beverage and supplement applications that can meet personalized nutritional needs for consumers.

Additionally, products backed by science and research can help cut through the noise, providing opportunities to build trust and transparency. As manufacturers look for novel solutions to reach a market of health-conscious consumers, they will need to understand both the nutritional requirements consumers need and the benefits they most demand.

So what’s next in the world of personalized nutrition?

Personalization is reaching all product categories across many different age groups. Because of this, personalized functional foods, beverages and supplements will require more investment in ingredients and product solutions that can reach specific and broad consumer groups and their nutritional needs. Research will play a vital role because it will help validate and communicate a functional ingredient’s benefits and ultimately help consumers identify the products that will add value to their health and wellness goals.


By: Satya Jonnalagadda, Ph.D., MBA, RD

Satya Jonnalagadda, Ph.D., MBA, RD is currently the Director of Global Nutrition Science at Kerry. She is responsible for leading Kerry’s nutrition science function, strategic nutrition research, internal and external nutrition positioning and scientific communications while staying up-to-date of proposed food regulations and identifying new nutrition science opportunities. Satya leads the Kerry Health and Nutrition Institute, a leading resource in for health, nutrition and general wellness science and policies in food and beverage product development.

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