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Nestle Takes a Crack at Medical Foods

Posted by Dale Buss on February 3, 2011 02:00 PM

Touting the nutritional and health benefits of foods and beverages has fallen into a bit of disfavor recently in the western world, with both U.S. and European health-claims regulators getting tougher about what CPG manufacturers can say.

But with a nod to Jamie Lee Curtis, we are what we eat. And there’s no doubt that consumers around the world are looking more and more for “better-for-you” foods. So Nestle figures it’s time to place a bigger bet on the ultimate goal: development of truly “medical foods” that could be counted on to address human ills in a proactive and effective way, much as drugs do.

The Swiss dairy and confection giant, long considered one of the best-managed global food companies, is acquiring CM&D Pharma, a U.K.-based pharmaceutical startup that has developed a chewing gum (sold under the brand name of Fostrap) for kidney-disease sufferers.

There are a lot more medical-food possibilities in the laboratories of Nestle, Groupe Danone, General Mills and other leading innovators in the industry.

It’s inevitable that the mainstream CPG industry will develop and introduced more foods that actually have medicinal value.  For one thing, baby boomers worldwide are, in a sense, demanding it. The generation before them is more comfortable addressing their infirmities and nutritional needs with drugs, supplements and other pills. But boomers demonstrate a greater desire for intrinsic, or engineered, nutritional and health benefits in the foods and beverages they consume.

And in a way, if Nestle is able to find and develop more medical-foods successes, it will be bringing things full circle. Can anyone deny that chicken soup is and always has been good for a cold?

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