Food As Medicine: What Does It Mean For Grocery Retailers
The buzz term ‘food as medicine’ has been circulating rather broadly in recent years, invoking interest, as well as some skepticism, within the professional community and consumers alike. From physicians and nutritionists to foodservice professionals and retailers, food as medicine is what everyone is eyeing to cater to consumers’ hearts.
While several studies have shown just how much dietary choices and habits can influence our overall health, no unanimous validation had yet been granted to the issue. But according to studies, foods can indeed increase or decrease our risk of certain diseases or health conditions. For instance, berries can often greatly reduce the risk of developing heart disease and cancer. Other foods, such as turmeric or curcumin offer protective and medicinal benefits. The famed Mediterranean diet has true therapeutic traits when it comes to diabetes. These are just to name a few.
So yes, while functional foods won’t replace good old medicine, just supplement it, food as medicine is something to believe in. Even try. Furthermore, different remedies can be consumed every minute of every day, with practically unlimited choices to fit every person’s taste buds and medical condition.
But just like traditional medicine we need to know which kind of ingredients help out with which conditions. The problem is, no physician will put you down for turmeric, or fish. Those who wish to take advantage of medicinal foods usually consult a nutritionist or homeopath, which means booking an appointment and paying some good bucks. Alternatively, they scour the internet for information, comparing sources until ultimately settling on whatever seems the most logical.
It’s a lot of work!
It’s As Simple As Looking In The Pantry
Enter AI-powered personalized nutrition.
These great, functional foods will mean very little if not taken properly. They would still taste good, but if you have type 2 diabetes then berries, for example, would do less for you than a Mediterranean diet.
Personalized nutrition can help us understand how to use different foods as medicine with everyday items we buy anyway, or maybe pick something new off the shelf and maximize both our time and our dollars to help our body through various situations. When done right, personalized nutrition can save us thousands of dollars on professional help, just by knowing how to look inside the pantry.
Furthermore, personalized nutrition provides insights into other areas of our health and wellness, like physical activity and sleep. Through understanding food, we can maximize different aspects of life.
Unavoidably, Covid-19 had incentivized consumers even further in to take better care of themselves and their bodies, while finding innovative ways to minimize spending on ‘luxury’ services such as visiting a nutritionist. In this respect, knowing how to take advantage of everyday food items at regular costs can make a great difference to consumers.
Grocery Retailers Need To Step Up
The personalized nutrition market is worth billions of dollars and retailers would be wise to invest in innovative solutions in this space. Consumers are looking more and more at front and back label information, with over half searching for specific nutritional information.
This ‘research’, however, means a lot of friction on the customer’s side. Over 60% of consumers say they know what their health goals are but can’t name the foods they need to buy to reach these goals, and 80% say they knowingly rely on conflicting information, in lack of a better option.
But better options do exist. In fact, AI-driven food recommendation technology has the power to not only unchain customers from the task of researching nutritional information and ingredients but also to completely release them from having to know anything about nutrition.
The Bottom Line
Food as medicine is said to be one of the biggest rising trends of the next decade. Functional foods can help with an array of diseases and conditions, ranging from heart and gut health to skin condition and the immune system.
The caveat is that unless consumers are truly knowledgable in the area, or invest in serious research, it can be quite hard to match specific foods and ingredients to health goals.
Fortunately, like other spaces in need of creative solutions, innovation exist here as well. With the help of AI-powered algorithms and intelligent use of data, retailers can now invest in a holistic customer experience around health and nutrition, playing a crucial role in their journey towards a healthier life.