Content - Nestlé Japan expands its health care platform

  • July 17, 2018

Nestlé Japan expands its health care platform

Tokyo (SCCIJ) – Nestlé Japan is experimenting with its business model to turn itself from a food and beverage into a health care company. In March 2017, it launched an online platform called "Nestlé Wellness Ambassador" to support people in eating and living more healthily. Now, it has started using information from blood and DNA tests of its customers to personalize the nutritional advice even further. According to Kohzoh Takaoka, Chief Executive Officer of Nestlé Japan, this new Japan health strategy could provide a model for the whole company's behavior in other advanced countries.

Provided DNA test kit

Paid subscription service

The Nestlé Wellness Ambassador is a paid subscription service in Japan that is already used by more than 90,000 people. They get a Nescafé Dolce Gusto machine free, and different capsules of matcha that contains vitamins and/or minerals, or milk capsules with functional ingredients. The daily intake depends on the individual needs of the subscribers.  

To define these needs, the customers take pictures of their meals with their smartphones. An artificial intelligence algorithm recognizes the food items in the picture and calculates the individual nutritional intake. The app gives recommendations about which nutrients are needed and what capsules to use, via an application of the messenger service LINE. The details of the subscription service are adapted accordingly.  

Individual nutritional needs

"Many people take health products and supplements without understanding their own nutritional status, so I wanted to take a deeper look into it," Nestlé Japan CEO Takaoka told the Yomiuri Shimbun in a recent interview. "Big data shows us what nutrients users need when they respond to such simple questions as 'How many servings of vegetables are you having?'”  

As the next step in this service, Nestlé Japan is distributing blood and DNA test kits to subscribers since the end of May. By using a provided needle or swab, the customers themselves collect a small sample of their blood or saliva and send it to a test laboratory. These samples are used to analyze current or future health risks of a person and to devise counter strategies which also include nutritional recommendations.  

Cooperation with other industries

For the examinations of the blood and DNA tests, Nestlé Japan works together with the two Japanese startups Genesis Healthcare and Halmek Ventures. In conjunction with the French insurance company AXA, Nestlé also promotes its health care subscription service to company employees. Nestlé Japan is also considering to collaborate with drugstores and use them as their "help desks".  

As a food company, Nestlé is not allowed to claim medical benefits of its products. Instead, it recommends their use based on studies and examinations of pharmaceutical and medical companies. By including such information in its own health care platform, Nestlé intends to provide the full range of knowledge about certain foods, ingredients and supplements to its customers.  

According to a report by the financial daily Nikkei, Nestlé executives have already visited Japan to study the "Nestlé Wellness Ambassador" initiative. "When technology advances at such a rapid pace and certain developed countries are seeing a declining population, the health care industry is the only way for food companies to survive", Takaoka said according to the Nikkei report.    


Text: Martin Fritz for SCCIJ; Photo: Nestlé Japan also provides DNA/blood test kit in its service (Nestlé Japan)        

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