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February 2019 – Edition 24

TAKING MEAT OFF THE MENU

For the hospitality sector there has never been a stronger case to put plant-based diet at the centre of the wellness offering – and score environmental points while riding the market trend.

This year’s Veganuary was the most successful yet, with a quarter of a million participants worldwide signing up to go meat-free (this is on a backdrop of an estimated 22 million people in the UK alone who identify as ‘flexitarian’, those who enjoy meat but wish to reduce their meat consumption) more than in the last four years combined. The organizers said that six out of ten of those who took the pledge said they intended to stay vegan.

Simultaneously, momentum is growing for meat substitutes, and at a time when movements like Extinction Rebellion are seeking to put the climate threat onto an emergency footing, with the need to move away from meat at the forefront of the changes required.

“If meat-eaters in relatively high-income countries adopted a flexitarian diet, they could potentially decrease food-related greenhouse-gas emissions by almost half by 2050.”

A study led by Marco Springmann of Oxford University, meanwhile, says that if meat-eaters in relatively high-income countries adopted a flexitarian diet, they could potentially decrease food-related greenhouse-gas emissions by almost half by 2050.

Sales of meat substitutes are booming. Market research firm Coherent Market Insights says that the global vegan meat market is growing at 7.6 per cent annually, and is set to surpass $6.5 billion by 2026.

Although some of that growth is coming from new substitute products such as cultured or lab-grown meat, which are used in ‘bleeding’ veggie burgers, most of the growth is going to be driven by long-established products like tofu and tempeh.

Why is this important? Another new study by researchers at Leeds and York universities, with the apt title Lettuce be Happy has found that there’s a clear link between eating more fruit and vegetables and improved mental as well as physical wellbeing.

Anni Hood, Chief Executive, Well Intelligence

CHINA WELLNESS TOURISM IS ON THE WAY

Recent stats have shown that outbound tourism from China is still rising and set to continue – albeit the amount that every Chinese tourist spends has dipped slightly. A study from Ctrip, China’s largest online travel agency, and the China Tourism Academy, reported on Skift found that overall tourist numbers from China were up 15 per cent in the first half of 2018 to 71.3 million trips, while average spend fell 14 per cent to $758.

It’s been predicted that by 2030, China will account for 400m outbound trips each year, representing 30 per cent of all global tourists.

This matters because China is becoming a significant player in wellness. With its cultural heritage in Traditional Chinese Medicine this may not be surprising, but the Chinese proclivity for wellness manifests itself in other ways. Exercise is big in China with Tai Chi practiced in every park and open space, while the country is taking up yoga in huge numbers with more than 10,000 yoga schools nationwide and more than 100m Chinese use a fitness app on their phone. The Chinese Government is determined to add hundreds of millions to those regularly exercising, in the face of a growing obesity problem.

“The Chinese Government is determined to add hundreds of millions to those regularly exercising, in the face of a growing obesity problem”

Domestic wellness tourism is also picking up fast especially among Millennials. A report on Xinhuanet details how one region alone, Zhejiang, is set to build 50 wellness tourism bases in a bid to attract 70m tourists by 2020.

The scale of tourism from China is such that nobody in the hospitality sector can afford to ignore the Chinese effect, and one key to success will be providing the wellness products – experiences, cosmetic and complementary treatments, that they are looking for.

Steve Dunne, Chairman, Well Intelligence

THE GENE GENIE IS OUT OF THE BOTTLE

Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) was a triumph of science when the human genome was first sequenced 15 years ago at a cost of more than £1bn. Now it is available on the National Health Service for £500 – or a bit more than that if you go to a private provider.

NB -Your ‘whole genome’ is fixed from birth but your lifestyle and environment can change how your DNA is expressed: epigenetics is the study of those changes.

What WGS offers is the opportunity to find out if you have genes that increase your risk of contracting a range of conditions, both single genes like APOE which, in one of its variants can mean a 40 per cent change of developing Alzheimers; and combinations of genes which via your polygenic score can help to predict a whole range of common disorders from obesity to inflammatory bowel disease.

“In the private sector, Direct to Consumer companies such as Chronomics take a wholly individual approach that combines fixed DNA with lifestyle and environment to give precision and accuracy via an epigenetic approach.”

Both public and private sectors are approaching the same question but from different angles. In the private sector, Direct to Consumer companies such as Chronomics take a wholly individual approach that combines fixed DNA with lifestyle and environment to give precision and accuracy via an epigenetic approach.

Public health, by contrast tends to focus on the polygenic score and its calibration of your risk for all those more common conditions and diseases. In a universal healthcare system, WGS can save money by steering patients in a more refined but still general (relative to epigenetics) direction that will work towards greater prevention of disease and longevity.

For wellness businesses, from exercise and food/nutrition to relaxation and complementary therapies, the opportunity is to work alongside public and private sector health systems to support in the achievement of lifestyle shifts that both whole genome and epigenetics will indicate.

Anni Hood, Chief Executive, Well Intelligence

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