“Personalized nutrition is a space with as many opportunities as pitfalls.”
That’s one of the main takeaways from a report by Lux Research, which identifies the main drivers of corporate interest in personalized nutrition: more than one billion people globally with such diet-related medical issues as diabetes and obesity.
Campbell Soup Co. knows the pitfalls, having invested an initial $32 million in a personalized nutrition company called Habit in 2016—only to divest its holdings in 2019.
In addition to physical conditions affected by diet, there is stress, which no doubt impacts far more people in these tough times.
But everyone’s response to stress is different, which is what motivated Rachel Yarcony to establish personalized nutrition startup myAir, Ltd. in June of 2019 with Dovev Goldstein. The company is based in Tel Aviv, Israel.
As this video explains, visitors to the myAir website take a brief survey to answer questions about, among other things, daily energy levels, sleeping habits and level of anxiety.
Upon completing the process, they are sent a package of 10 energy bars, each formulated with a “research-backed botanical blend designed to deliver a specific stress-release effect,” according to the company.”
The company claims such “bioactive botanical extracts” as sage, hops, oats and valerian are “proven to reduce stress,” providing results like reduced anxiety and quality sleep. MyAir offers a 100% money-back guarantee.
If people sign up for a monthly subscription. they can send their physiological data to the myAir website via a smart watch for ongoing personalization of the bars they receive.
In this interview, which is edited for brevity and clarity, Yarcony—who has worked for Nestle, Strauss Group and Teva Pharmaceuticals—talks about the personal and professional factors that led to her involvement in myAir.
The company is currently in trial phase, with an official U.S. launch scheduled for early 2021.
CPG FYI: Tell us about your background in psychology.
Yarcony: My dream was always to be a psychologist. I did my studies in psychology and got my BA at Tel Aviv University, and then I was volunteering with mentally ill patients who were being treated with drugs. For me, it was surprising to discover that the drugs sometimes had stronger effects than the psychological treatment and process that we wanted to achieve.
CPG FYI: How did you get into CPG?
Yarcony: I got my MBA in France and in 2003 came back to Israel and started to work for Strauss Group. At Strauss I headed up marketing of dairy products like Activia and Danone. That was the first phase for me to fall in love with the functional food area.
CPG FYI: When did you begin to focus on stress and how it affects people?
Yarcony. I always had a hectic career and lifestyle—being an executive, a mother of three kids and a caregiver to my parents. Suddenly, I understood that everybody around me suffered from stress. Back then, it was the first time that it actually influenced me physically on my sleep at night. And I wanted to find a solution that would not include drugs. I wanted to find a solution that would come from nature.
CPG FYI: What about your co-founder?
Yarcony: I had many conversations with Dovev when he talked about the personal aspects [of stress] because his sleep isn't affected when he’s stressed. He has totally different effects.
CPG FYI: Hence the personalization of your nutrition bars?
Yarcony: The idea is that stress is something that you need to manage on an ongoing basis. It’s an ongoing problem. It’s like a sports routine or a dietary routine.
CPG FYI: Can we assume that because of the process that’s involved, you won’t be selling your nutrition bars on places like Amazon or in brick-and-mortar stores?
Yarcony: We have some collaboration options that we are now assessing and reviewing, together with our board. At this stage, it’s very important for us to have the D2C connection because each one of our users has a deep profiling process.