Last week Lux hosted the Americas Lux Executive Summit (LES). Among discussions on the great energy transition, the digital transformation, and the materials-manufacturing nexus, Lux analysts and external speakers also explored the rise of consumer health and wellness. From non-GMO and organic food to activity tracking and “natural” ingredients, today’s consumers care about – and are willing to pay for – wellness. Some estimates put the wellness market at nearly $4 trillion, but it remains unclear if current solutions actually deliver on wellness claims to the consumer. Below, we highlight key themes discussed at LES that look to provide clarity on how developers should approach the wellness market: Continue reading
In the food and agriculture industries, most biotech developers have approached crop modification with a specific goal in mind: increasing crop yield. Most focus has been on traits that confer agricultural benefits like herbicide tolerance and insect or disease resistance that are upstream to the consumer. Lux Research has identified an emerging trend wherein companies are now targeting developing traits at the point of the consumer with direct consumer-facing benefits rather than agronomic farmer-facing benefits. Over the last few years, several firms have developed these traits, including a variety of pink pineapple developed by Del Monte, a variety of gluten-reduced wheat developed by Calyxt, and non-browning apples developed by Okanagan Specialty Fruits. We expect to see more crops with consumer-facing benefits to appear in the coming years, as developers aim to capitalize on consumer-driven trends and needs. Continue reading
With a range of fitness devices capable of being diagnostic tools ([see the July 15, 2016 LRWEJ] client registration required), many developers are now turning to wearables to monitor and alleviate stress. This includes wearables that contain one or more of the following sensors: optical/ECG heart rate sensors, EEG sensors, temperature sensors, and impedance/galvanic skin response sensors.
It was back in June of 2016 when Forbes had revised its valuation of Theranos from $4.5 billion to $0 following a series of investigations and allegations that the company’s blood tests were inaccurate. And yet, earlier this month Theranos made headlines again when The The Wall Street Journal published more information on violations of policies and procedures, which it topped off with commentary that the company is now “on life support“. Specifically, The Wall Street Journal had revealed that Theranos employees improperly operated blood testing machines and that the company did not ensure that all patients who may have received potentially inaccurate blood test results were notified. Although Theranos had shifted its focus and is now developing the miniLab– a tabletop laboratory which it will sell to health care providers– the original vision of running hundreds of tests using just a finger prick remains appealing. The question then becomes ‘what are the technology gaps that prevented Theranos’s original promise from becoming a reality?’ To better understand this gap we outline the state of innovation of blood diagnostics today: Continue reading
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