Neil Grimmer was prescient about parents wanting organic food for their babies and toddlers when he co-founded Plum Organics, which he sold to Campbell Soup in 2013 for $249 million. Campbell is betting that Grimmer is right once again.
His personalized nutrition startup, Habit, is rolling out its service across the U.S. after a successful test in the first quarter of this year in the San Francisco Bay Area, which was financed in large part by a $32 million investment by the CPG giant.
“Sales have boomed,” Grimmer told brandchannel. “We have thousands of people who are on Habit now, and the test really did exceed our expectations.”
How it works: A customer provides information and materials that will allow the service to construct a personalized nutrition plan, including a cheek swab to collect DNA; a finger-prick blood sample; and drinking a “challenge beverage” to test how the user metabolizes fats and carbs.
For $299, the Habit Core package includes an at-home Nutrition Test Kit, a personalized nutrition plan based on about 60 “biomarkers” and biology reports based on your results, which you can discuss in a 30-minute consultation with a registered dietitian.
Once you receive your results and your Habit persona (such as Protein Seekers, who should ease up on carbs, or Range Seekers, needing more than 50% of their daily nutrients from carbs) you can order fresh meals tailored to your biology for $8–$14 per meal, depending on the meal and type of plan (and where you’re located).
There are no meal delivery fees, and you can also schedule additional one-on-one sessions with a Habit nutrition coach for an additional cost.
Habit launched personalized fresh meal delivery in the Bay Area, and is now expanding it across the U.S. over the next 12 to 18 months. In addition to data, coaching and personalized meal plans, users will receive information including “the latest health hacks, nutrition and science news and special offers for our Habit community.”
We spoke with Grimmer, above, about plans to make his new service, well, Habit-forming.
Why is the timing right for a U.S.-wide rollout?
We’ve realized there’s such a huge interest both in the idea of personalized nutrition and also in the possibility that holds for us in terms of our overall health and wellbeing. We see that in consumer interest and demand and media interest and demand. It says to us we’re converging with the right idea at the right time.
The backdrop is that we’re hit with more bad diets than ever before. A lot of people are trying, and many are failing, because those approaches aren’t tuned into what their body individually needs, to the insights that live within their biology.
What’s driving the people are signing up so far?
We think we’re providing a great deal of value at $299 with a personalized nutrition plan and nutrition coaching session; a 25-minute coaching session alone could cost you up to $100.
We have a lot of unique testimonials already. We have stories of individual losing 25 to 30 pounds, people actually increasing their energy. And we did an eight-week pilot study with 20 active Habit participants. After eight weeks, 74% had lost weight. We’re not a weight-loss company but a health-and-wellbeing company, but once you use nutrition that’s right for you, you start losing weight and it has a lot of other health benefits.
What are some of the other health benefits?
Well, the next set of learnings from our pilot study was around changed eating behaviors. That’s equally important. There was a 56% increase in consumption of non-starchy vegetables, a 43% decrease in sugary beverages consumed and a 26% decrease in alcohol consumption.
Meanwhile, 83% said they increased their eating confidence in social and emotional situations. When faced with a challenging eating situation, they had a plan and felt confident in executing it and felt that they’d navigated that situation successfully.
Are you able to find enough qualified coaches?
Yes. One thing we’re proud of is that we have registered dietitians as our coaching staff. They have degrees in nutrition, so they’re a cut above a nutritionist per se. That’s important because these coaching sessions are helping you understand the insights that are coming from your body, so you need to be able to talk about biology along with all the nutrition advice. We have a coaching office here at Habit [headquarters in Oakland, Calif.] where a number of coaches do their calls, but they’re spread all over the country.
Is the competitive landscape changing?
We’ve seen an uptick in DNA-based nutrition services but no one is doing what we did. We look at your bloodwork and metabolism. We take the most holistic view. Then we connect it to coaching and real food. No one has created the solution set we’ve created.
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