Mars Edge and foodspring agree deal to explore personalised nutrition

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

Tobias SchuÌle (right) and Philipp Schrempp (left), Foodspring's co-founders. ©foodspring
Tobias SchuÌle (right) and Philipp Schrempp (left), Foodspring's co-founders. ©foodspring
Mars Edge is to acquire a majority stake in startup foodspring in a deal that prioritises personalised nutrition and represents the first investment for the foodmaker’s health foods division.

Led by Mars Edge, the deal gives the company access to Foodspring’s product portfolio that includes protein shakes, supplements, snacks & bars, muesli & porridge and a range of beverages.

“We have been incredibly impressed by the foodspring team,” ​said a Mars spokesperson.

“In just six years, foodspring has become one of the largest and fastest growing targeted nutrition businesses in Europe. With a mix of capabilities that span digital, data and branding, they have a portfolio of products that provide targeted nutrition based on needs like performance and shape.”

While financial details of the deal were not disclosed, the transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of 2019 subject to customary regulatory approvals.

On completion, foodspring founded in 2013, will remain a standalone business led by the founders within Mars Edge continuing to operate out of its headquarters in Berlin, Germany.

‘Buy, build, partner’

Commenting on the deal, Mars Edge, founded in 2017, spoke of its stake in foodspring as an example of its ‘buy, build, partner’ strategy used to drive business growth.

“When we set up Mars Edge we set out to play an active role in contributing to better lives through nutrition,”​ a Mars spokesperson said.

“Targeted and personalised nutrition have been a core focus area because they speak to the consumer needs and behaviour.

“Consumers are moving from one-size-fits-all food to what's right for me. When we think about nutrition and what makes it challenging for consumers it is often trading off convenience or taste, or being confused by conflicting guidance.

“Together with foodspring we are building a global, targeted nutrition business that will allow us to pioneer the emerging area of personalised nutrition.”

Mars Edge adds that the addition of foodspring and its strengths compliments the division’s current offerings that cater to the nutrition demands of select groups.

Gomo, an ingredient created by Mars includes six grams (g) of protein that combined with iron, vitamin A, vitamin B12, vitamin C and vitamin D per serving, designed to appeal to children aged 6-18.

In a similar vein, Mars' expertise on cocoa flavanols is used to create CocoaVia, a nutritional supplement designed to support healthy blood flow.

“Mars Edge will continue to pursue its purpose to better lives through nutrition through products like GoMo, CocoaVia and by building a business in personalised nutrition,”​ said Mars.

Mars’ targeted range of products complement foodspring’s nutrition and fitness platform that guides consumers to make informed product choices, as well as access to nutritionists through its customer service team.

“It was clear from early on in discussions that we shared a vision and passion with the Mars Edge team. Like them, we want to use our depth of knowledge on consumer needs to pioneer the emerging space of personalised nutrition”,​ said Tobias Schüle, co-founder & CEO of foodspring.

“The food industry is on a huge transformational path towards improving nutrition so people can reach their goals and improve their health. And together with Mars Edge we want to take the lead in this transforming category.”

“Our visions are very similar,” ​added Mars. “In our first conversation with the foodspring founders, we all had a moment where we paused and said “we really want to achieve the same thing.””

“Much like we at Mars Edge want to “better lives through nutrition” and align the food we want with the nutrition we need, foodspring operates under the principle that “the right food is the key for a fitter, happier and more productive life.”

Let’s get personal

Mars are not the only company in the food industry taking an interest in personalised nutrition.  Diary giants, FrieslandCampina recently said was exploring future growth potential in gut health, protein and personalised nutrition.

A spokesperson for the company confirmed that it was stepping up investment in these areas.

Meanwhile, Campbell – best known for its canned soup– has been eyeing the personal nutrition space for some time and as far back as 2016 Campbell invested in US personal nutrition start-up Habitat.

In Asia, Nestlé has launched a DNA testing platform​ in​​ Japan, called Nestlé Wellness Ambassador, which sends users – there are currently around 90,000 of them - a home testing kit to analyse their blood and DNA. They then receive personalised dietary advice.

“Consumers are really in the driver’s seat on this trend,” ​said Mars. “The combination of an increased focus on wellness, a desire for “just for me” personalised offerings, and great comfort with digital first solutions is making personalised nutrition relevant and attractive.

“At the same time science, data and technology are enabling this trend, giving us the possibility to gain insights into an individual’s health and goals, lifestyle, and behaviours in a more “frictionless” way and to individualise diet and lifestyle recommendations based on that.”

Food as ‘medicine’

The deal also represents another a shift in thinking that now views food as a “medicine” ​culminating in the growing convergence between food and nutrition with health and wellness.

“Food and nutrition have long been tied to health and wellness,” ​said Mars. “We are excited by the growing interest consumers are showing in the important role food can play in health, as well as the emerging science that is shedding light on individual responses to nutrition.

“We see personalised nutrition as a game changer for the way consumers eat – and a way to drive lasting change.

“There is huge potential for personalised nutrition to maintain and improve the health and wellbeing of each of us.

“But it will require uncommon collaborations across industry, researchers, governments and countries around the world to really crack and to move beyond the narrative potential.

“We are still in the early days of this space and at Mars Edge we are looking forward to collaborating to help pioneer this space.”

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