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Health and social convictions feed demand for a personalised diet
The link between the ingredients we eat and our general state of health is well established and well known. The French public seem to finally be putting this knowledge into practice, undoubtedly because health has returned to the centre of public debate since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Although health is everyone’s concern, individualised measures are also called for depending on our physiological characteristics. This is where personalisation of diet comes in…
Diet personalisation: health and societal convictions
For the overwhelming majority of people in France (95%), dietary choices have a direct impact on health (CSA, April 2021). In addition, long-term media coverage on the topic of health over the past two years has influenced the ingredients used. According to the same study, 54% of the French population say they pay more attention to the impact their diet has on health since the Covid-19 pandemic. This “healthisation” of foods can be seen in a demand for personalisation:
- Objectively, what is “healthy” for one organism is not necessarily for another, considering intolerances, allergies, deficiencies, healthy weight, exercise taken, age, etc.
- More subjectively, the concept of what is “healthy” is open to various interpretations. Beyond our health, it can have more ethical and more social connotations: respect for animal welfare, fair pay for farmers, short supply chains, etc. We are not all sensitive to the same causes, and the degree of commitment varies from one consumer/diner to the next.
Personalised nutrition can be divided into services (assessment, formulation of nutritional recommendations, personalised coaching, etc.) and/or finished products (products adapted to individual needs, delivery of “custom-made” meals, etc.). It can be used to meet a number of goals: weight loss, prevention of certain diseases, support for a care plan, etc.
Here we will look at 3 types of personalisation that have been identified:
– personalisation using user questionnaires to define personalised guidance;
– personalisation using connected devices (smartphones, watches, etc.), based on the collection of individual digital data;
– personalisation via “biological” analysis (DNA, microbiota, etc.).
More broadly, in incorporating health criteria as well as their convictions into their dietary behaviour, consumers/diners are conscious that they are unique and expect to be considered as such by those who feed them – agri-food stakeholders and restaurant owners alike. Jean-Philippe Marie de Chastenay, CEO of Touaregs and a specialist in the social impacts of new technologies, talks about “self food”.
The staggering improvisations in food technology for food personalisation
In the agri-food industry, an initial flurry of personalisation initiatives was seen in the mid-1990s, and the trend has continued until today. It essentially influenced form rather than substance (packaging and distribution as opposed to product ingredients or the way it is made). Coca Cola, Nutella and even Evian have given the consumer the opportunity to personalise packaging (consumer’s first name, personalised label, special design for family events, etc.).
The second phase of personalisation allowed the consumer to compose the product according to their desires or needs, through an “à la carte” approach. Some examples:
- MyMuesli invites consumers to tick the ingredients they want to see in their muesli and give their creation a name.
- YourBite enables consumers to choose the ingredients in their nutritional bar;
- Coca Cola, via its Freestyle initiative, allows the consumer to blend flavours from the group’s different brands to create a unique beverage.
As part of their respective Act For Food2 and ConsoMieux3 policies, Carrefour and Intermarché made commitments to support their customers in making the transition to a healthy diet – a transition that involves making better choices among their products. Since 2020, consumers have been able to use their mobile apps to access the INNIT questionnaire, where they can provide information on their preferences.
Using the responses to the questionnaire, the INNIT system gives a score to products sold in the shop. The higher the score, the more the product is aligned with the consumer’s own expectations and preferences.
However, this type of personalised initiative remains marginal. In commercial food service, personalisation has also gone through various stages:
- rudimentary personalisation, with the degree to which meat is cooked and choice of garnish;
- the “salad bar” type of offer, where the consumer makes up their own salad by ticking the ingredients;
- the arrival of menus that are “free from” (gluten free, salt free), low-carb, high-protein, veggie, etc.
The time for a single menu seems therefore to be long gone, and the diner’s choice has become multi-dimensional: dependent on appetite, mood, and – increasingly – the dish’s health, environmental and ethical credentials. For restaurant owners, the idea is not so much about delivering custom-made orders in the literal sense, but rather about being properly equipped to meet diners’ personalisation needs.
Cocotine supports the commercial food service and mass catering sectors in meeting the demand for personalisation
To help commercial food service distributors and chefs meet their diners’ health and ethical requirements, Cocotine offers egg products accredited by quality schemes (organic, free range, animal welfare cage-free).
Chefs in the mass catering industry can count on our delicious, balanced and plant-based recipes and quality-scheme egg products to satisfy the demand for personalisation.