Unless you’re a nutritionist or really adept at reading nutrition labels, it can be tricky to tell which brands of peanuts/chocolate/crackers are healthiest for you. Especially when grocery stores offer dozens and dozens of SKUs for every possible food item.
With DNANudge, a London-based personalized nutrition startup, the key to optimizing your grocery shopping is on your wrist. The company’s app links up with wearable bands which scan CPG products and give you real-time feedback on whether they’re a good fit for you to eat — or not.
We stopped by DNANudge’s booth at CES 2020 to get a tour of how it works. First you send off a saliva sample to the company’s HQ in Covent Garden, London. DNANudge analyzes your DNA to give you a breakdown of your nutritional profile — sensitive to salt, low risk of diabetes, etc. — which is available via the company’s app. (Your sample is then destroyed.) The app also connects to DNANudge’s wearable armbands, available online or in its London retail store.
Then the fun begins. You can scan the barcodes of edible CPG products with the armband, which will either flash green (a good match for your biology) or red (not so much). After the band flashes, you can check on the app to get a more detailed breakdown of why the food is/isn’t a fit for you, and also get recommendations for products that might be a better match. Which kind of makes me wonder why the armband is even necessary — couldn’t you just scan all the products with your phone? Though I guess it looks #fashion and saves you the step of pulling out your phone, if you just want a quick yes/no in the grocery aisle.
Speaking on the CES show floor, DNANudge’s co-founder and CEO Chris Toumazou told me that he started the company in 2015 to empower people to eat healthier. “If you want to eat a biscuit, you’re going to eat a biscuit,” he explained to me. “But you can eat the best biscuit for your biology.”
DNANudge’s scanning currently works with all CPG SKU’s in major U.K. supermarkets, except for Marks & Spencer. The entire system — DNA test, wearable, and app — is currently available in the U.K. for 120 pounds ($158). Toumazou told me that they were planning to launch in the U.S. soon, possibly in L.A. He estimates that the system will retail for $120 stateside.
Personalized nutrition — either based off of DNA or gut microbiomes — has become quite a trend lately. Viome and Sun Genomics make dietary and supplement recommendations based off of your microbiome. The most similar offering to DNANudge is GenoPalate, which also uses a saliva swab to map DNA and make suggestions about which foods people should eat. However, GenoPalate doesn’t have the wearable aspect, so it can’t make recommendations on a case-by-case basis like DNANudge does.
There’s no doubt that more people want more personalized dietary guides, but how exactly to do that — and protect consumer data — is still unclear. If you’re curious this emerging space you should come to Customize, our food personalization summit on February 27th in New York City. See you there!