Since the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th U.S. president on January 20, 2017, new policies around immigration, trade, energy, and the federal government have been put in place. Although a repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, took center stage in Trump’s campaigning, no policies directly impacting health have been implemented by his administration, and the fate of health care under Trump is still unknown. To provide a recap of what we do know, we outline what has taken place on the health front in his first two weeks. In addition, based on campaign rhetoric, we outline what a Trump administration will likely mean for digital health moving forward. Continue reading
Clean label and “free-from” food innovations, alternatives for undesirable food components (e.g. sugar, salt, and preservatives), increased protein, functional foods, and the role of the microbiome in health were major technology trends that have shaped the food industry landscape in the past few years. While these technology trends will continue to be influential in the coming years, we expect a few of them will have the greatest impact in the food industry this year. Here is Lux’s prediction of 2017’s top three food technology trends: Continue reading
A myriad of new business models are reshaping the way consumers select and obtain their food. As activity rises in the space, complexity heightens, and incumbents must learn to evolve or risk falling behind. To provide clarity on this evolving landscape, Lux created a framework to categorize new food business models and analyzed the price premium consumers pay across these different categories ([see full report here] client registration required). Specifically, we looked at four categories of business models providing services for food acquisition, including online grocery shopping, meal kits, prepared meals, and restaurant delivery. Across these categories, convenience is at the center of the value that these new food business models offer.
What They Said
Early in December 2016, Nestle announced that it had developed a way to optimize the sweetness of sugar by restructuring its crystals. The “hollowed sugar,” as Nestle calls it, claims to be able to reduce sugars in chocolates by up to 40%. The company has not disclosed details on its sugar processing as it pursues a patent for this technology. Its lead researcher explains that the new sugar “will be processed to have the same sugar exterior – though it may be a globe instead of a box.” The company emphasizes that it uses only natural ingredients, and the compound is still sugar, not an alternative sweetener. Nestle will roll out its chocolate products using the new sugar beginning in 2018, but will perform ingredient substitution gradually to avoid sudden taste changes perceivable by its consumers.
Personalized nutrition has become a buzzword in the food industry, with startups rushing to provide solutions and incumbents pondering how to prepare for this shift in industry focus. Recently, large companies have joined in, with Campbell’s Soup Company staking a claim in this space through its $32 million investment in the personalized nutrition startup Habit (see the recent Lux Spotlight article “Case Study: Campbell’s Soup Invests $32 Million in Personalized Nutrition Startup Habit”). However, with all the hype surrounding personalized nutrition, the field remains vague and undefined. We tend to think of personalized nutrition as a single extreme solution – a perfectly tailored diet for each individual that helps obtain optimal health. However, in reality, personalized nutrition encompasses a wide range of products and solutions that offer individualized diet recommendations to the consumer at varying levels. To make sense of the space, Lux categorizes personalized nutrition solutions on two axes: recommendation frequency and personalization specificity (see the figure below).
Many organizations today understand that the digital transformation will impact every aspect of their businesses: how they sell, operate – even how they acquire talent (see the September 1, 2016 Lux Quarterly). Some have also come to realize that digital technology can impact how organizations understand consumers, engage with them, and change their behavior. While digital tracking of everyday activities is common, like activity tracking, the ability to engage with and change consumer behavior in the long-term is more valuable, but more difficult. Even the biggest of players in the digital space have failed to crack the code for how to do this successfully. Fitbit, for example, had long been criticized for having a third of its consumer base abandon their devices after a few weeks. The inability to change consumer behavior is not without repercussions, either, as earlier this month, for example, Fitbit’s shares plummeted 30% following low Q3 earnings. Continue reading
- Campbell’s Soup Company, an American producer of canned soups and other foods whose products are sold in 120 countries globally
- Habit, a San Francisco-based startup that provides biology-based personalized diet recommendations and food delivery services
Earlier this week, Campbell’s Soup Co. became the sole investor in Habit. The canned soup giant invested a total of $32 million in the personalized nutrition startup that will help its customers determine their ideal diet by analyzing their DNA, vital signs, and health goals, and will also ship meals directly to their doorsteps come 2017.
What They Said
Last week, we spoke at the 2016 Advanced Semiconductor Technology Conference in Singapore. The conference focused on semiconductor and information technologies and how they can impact the digitalization of two industries: manufacturing and health care. While discussions around advancements in nature-inspired structural materials and semiconductor technology were noteworthy, the forward-looking visions for digital health shared by three large players – IBM, Omron, and Nokia – took center stage. Continue reading
Among its recent string of announcements, Apple has introduced the successor to its first wearable device, the Apple Watch, appropriately dubbed “Apple Watch Series 2,” along with an update to the the Operating System “Watch OS 3.” The Apple Watch Series 2 has a few additional hardware features, namely a faster processor, bigger battery, waterproof, brighter screen, and GPS module. The Watch OS 3, which is for both the Apple Watch 1 and 2, revamped the information provided during workouts with users being able to track distance, pace, active calories, heart rate, and elapsed time, in addition to being able to share activity with friends, and to track swim workouts and running workouts without also needing to carry a smartphone. The Watch OS 3 also includes a breathing app that guides users through deep breath exercises to help them relax. Continue reading
McDonald’s, the world’s largest chain of hamburger fast food restaurants, distributed fitness tracking wristbands as Happy Meal toys. Distribution of the fitness trackers began on August 9, 2016 and lasted until August 17, 2016, after which the company issued a voluntary safety recall.
- McDonald’s offered activity tracking wearables with 500-calorie Happy Meals as a replacement for traditional toys. The activity tracker, dubbed “Step-iT,” came in six colors and could count steps and blink according to the speed at which the wearer moved.
- The company received several dozen reports of skin irritation and burns following usage of the Step-iT trackers.
- McDonald’s discontinued distribution of the devices on August 17, 2016, a little over a week after they were initially launched. A total of 29 million units were distributed across the U.S. and Canada during this period.
- The company issued a voluntary safety recall. Consumers were advised to return the Step-iT band in return for a replacement Happy Meal toy and either a free yogurt tube or a free bag of sliced apples.
- McDonald’s is now “aggressively investigating this issue” and has yet to pinpoint the reason for the incidents.