DNA testing service for shoppers launches in London stores

The DnaNudge pop-ups aim to help Waitrose and John Lewis customers make healthier food choices.
By Tammy Lovell
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Shoppers may come home with more than they bargained for when visiting Waitrose & Partners Canary Wharf, and John Lewis & Partners, White City. As well as bagging their usual products, customers now have the chance to get a personalised DNA report while browsing the London stores. 

Two pop-ups from genetic testing pioneer DnaNudge aim to 'nudge' people into make healthier choices by taking a cheek swab which generates a personalised DNA report based on nutrition-related health traits. 

Once tested, users are able to start using the DnaNudge smartphone app or wrist-worn DnaBand to scan more than 500,000 food and drink product barcodes and assess products’ suitability based on their personal genetic profile.

The pop-ups will feature for an initial period of three months, with experts from DnaNudge on hand to help shoppers and answer questions.

WHY IT MATTERS

The technology is based on the idea that regular gentle nudges, based on personalised DNA and lifestyle, can lead to positive health changes over time.

Users can the DnaBand to assess whether products are a good match for their DNA and consult the app to get healthier recommendations.

The DnaBand also features a physical inactivity monitor, which glows amber when the user has been inactive for too long and changes the user's product recommendations in the app until they have moved.

THE LARGER CONTEXT

In 2018, Waitrose & Partners announced it was supporting a clinical trial with DnaNudge and Imperial College London to explore the effects of DNA-personalised food choices on health outcomes for pre-diabetic individuals.

The consumer genomics market has been predicted by some analysts to be a $2.5 billion market by 2025, with big players such as 23andMe and Helix in the health space. Earlier this year, 23andMe launched a test for type 2 diabetes predisposition.

However there have been some questions about patient privacy and the accuracy of consumer tests.

ON THE RECORD

Moira Howie, nutrition and health manager at Waitrose & Partners, said: “Retailers have an important role to play in helping shoppers who want to be healthier, so we are pleased to be teaming up with DnaNudge to offer this new technology which enables customers to make more informed choices based on the dietary aspect of their DNA.”

Peter Cross, customer experience director, John Lewis & Partners, said: “This technology currently helps our customers make healthier decisions about the food they purchase but it could also have the potential to broaden out into categories such as skincare in the future.”

Professor Chris Toumazou, regius professor of engineering at Imperial College London and CEO and co-founder of DnaNudge, said: “We're all incredibly excited about the future opportunities for customers as we extend our DNA-personalised services into other areas over the coming months.”