Jean-Christophe Flatin, president, Innovation, Science, Technology & Mars Edge at Mars shares how forward-thinking collaboration is at the heart at helping to solve the global nutrition challenge.
I’ve spent my whole life not only eating food, but working with it as well - I’m passionate about helping people live fuller lives through the food they eat. Today, approximately four billion people around the world are not getting the nutrition they need. Two billion of them are not living a full life because they simply don’t have access to food with critical micronutrients like vitamins or minerals. Two billion are not living a full life because - while they do have access to food, and sometimes even consume too much of it - they are still not getting the micronutrients they need. All of this points to one thing: we’re facing a huge social, demographic and health challenge and we have to evolve our approach.
There’s no quick fix for this problem – to solve it we will need forward-thinking partnerships and collaboration.
That’s why we have created Mars Edge: a new business within Mars set up to build, invest and partner with companies, foundations, start-ups and entrepreneurs around the world in the converging fields of food, health and technology.
Let’s start by exploring the root cause of the issue we want to contribute towards solving. The reason why we need two words – Food and Nutrition – is because they carry very different meanings. Food, is what we think or sometimes dream of when our body starts to get hungry or we’re perhaps planning a social event. It could be a tajine with our loved one, a pizza party with our football team, or a sushi platter with our kids. It is strongly connected with our emotions, and is closely linked to our social and cultural backgrounds. It is driven by our senses, rituals and cravings. Nutrition, on the other hand, carries connotations of science and knowledge, often demonstrated through tables of macro and micronutrients. In other words, a very rational universe driven by scientific research and insights. Our current ways of living have created a wide gap between the Food we want and the Nutrition we need. This is the heart of the problem we need to solve – a problem that clearly requires a unique combination of nutritional and behavioral science.
In well-off communities, humans make a huge number of food choices every day, probably well over 200 when you consider all of the questions we ask ourselves about food: “what?”, “when?”, “how much?”, “with what?”. Many of these choices are subconscious. Within the fabric of our lives exists both an enormous challenge and a fantastic opportunity to make thousands of more informed decisions about what we eat, and how this can support our health.
At the moment, most of us are not seeing this connection between nutrition and food, or are struggling to reflect this in our food choices. Despite the fact that we now use digital applications to seamlessly inform and navigate our travel, shopping or holidays choices, we still leave crucial choices that can determine our health – food – to our instinct and habits. Now decades of science and knowledge can help curate our specific nutritional needs with a single click!
What if, we could leverage science, technology and data to provide consumers with easy solutions that suit their lifestyles and provide them with the nutrition they need? What if we could do this for both those who don’t have access to food with micronutrients and for those that have access but aren’t consuming foods with the micronutrients they need? What if we could help reconcile the food we want with the nutrition we need? This could be a great lever for positive change in any part of the world.
At Mars Edge, we are passionate about translating the latest science, data and technology to create easy, enjoyable and tailored nutrition solutions that are a seamless part of everyday lives and deliver measurable benefits. We are and will be working with world-class partners to meld nutrition with cutting edge science and technology to reach people all over the world.
So stay tuned and let’s contribute to better lives through nutrition together.