Success in microbiome testing requires expert support and realistic expectations

Companies should also promote retesting to enable consumers to see real outcomes of interventions to build brand credibility, according to expert panellists speaking during NutraIngredients’ Probiota event last week (7-9th​ February).

Microbiome testing challenges

Afif Ghannoum, co-founder and CEO of microbiome R&D company Biohm, stressed the significant challenges with widespread microbiome testing.

“It’s not a cheap thing,” Ghannoum pointed out. “Consumers are used to pregnancy tests that cost three dollars and are instant. And even with the targeted recommendations following a microbiome test, they’re not as targeted as something like a pregnancy test.

He said that combining microbiome testing with tailored products helps with continued customer engagement, which can lead to retesting by consumers to track progress.

He urged brands should provide a nutritionist to deliver follow-up advice to enable consumers to feel continuously supported, thereby adding value.

Cecilia Shiroma Kian, global product manager for flavour manufacturer Givaudan, noted that consumers often prefer to take their test results to their own healthcare professional to infer the results.

“But the majority of GPs are not capable of doing this,” she stressed.

Price pointed out that this challenge could be overcome with the implementation of technology and AI support services, enabling the customer to gain further insights.

Dr Nathan Price, chief scientific officer at Thorne HealthTech, said the brand’s microbiome testing kit, using a wipe, was very popular thanks to its ease of use.