AM Investment Strategies
AMS Spring 2023

Colgate Partners with Nourish3D to Offer 3D Printed Supplements


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3D printed supplement company Nourish3d has partnered with Colgate (NYSE: CL) to make Nutristacks. According to the partners, these 3D printed supplements are meant to improve oral health while also “nourishing your mind & body” and “[a]ll in one tasty, refreshing & convenient chew.” Convenient better oral health with one yummy bite is about as good as it gets. The product is meant to “support teeth and enamel,” improve “oral protection,” all while “giving you fresh breath.”

The 3D printed gummies contain arginine, xylitol, B12, CoQ10, and calcium. You can choose from Zen, Immunity, Glow, Focus and Energy Nutristacks, with each variety meant to offer different effects based on the ingredients within. They are available in mint and lemongrass flavors. The daily supplements cost £35 (€41 or USD$46) for 28 daily vitamins. You can also get a subscription. For a $1.60 a day, this is a healthy premium over traditional multivitamins of a factor of ten or twenty. The company claims that the nutrients are “delivered to the blood stream five times faster than pills or capsules.” Let’s all hope the lawyers were careful.

At the moment the Nutristacks look a little bit like a dishwasher pod that’s been left in water for a bit. All in all, it’s obvious to see why the finance and marketing folks are excited. The company is careful to mention that a Nutristack is not meant to be used instead of brushing your teeth. It presents them as a part of a host of oral health measures, which, frankly all sound less fun and more difficult than Nutristacks.

I can see the value of Nutristacks as offered by Nourish3D beyond the Colgate product. They’re printed gummies. Via Colgate, you can select several options and via Nourish3D, it’s possible to get them tailored to you after taking a short quiz. It is in the personalizing and customizing of supplements per person or per moment that will deliver something truly innovative.

I’m very bullish long-term about personalized nutrients and medicines. The idea of getting only exactly what you need depending on your test scores, energy usage, overall health, body, gut microbes, weight, and a whole host of other factors is super exciting to me. I love the precision that such a customized solution could offer athletes, the sick, and people that want to intensely monitor their health. Overall, by giving our bodies what we need on the day could have a lot of benefits.

Nourish3D is lead by Melissa Snover, who brings a lot of energy and gumption to the company. Not only that, but a lot of experience as well. She previously led the Magic Candy Factory 3D printer. This firm made unique candy shapes with 3D printing. She later pivoted towards customized gummy nutritional supplements. This seems like a wise move, especially given the higher value that these could command.

Also, by focusing on making the technology for nutritional gummies, the firm now is a gateway to a potentially many markets for potentially many brands. Large companies such as Unilever, Danone and Nestle are eyeing the burgeoning health segment which resists commoditization and is a ticket to higher margins. Meanwhile, Procter & Gamble has a lot of semi-medical brands already, as has the consumer division of erstwhile Unilever target GSK,  and, of course, Johnson and Johnson. Colgate-Palmolive itself is a $15.7 billion company, in terms of 2019 revenue, that has existed for over 215 years. Other sharks, such as emerging market firms and startups, are circling as well.

Recently, it has been clearly demonstrated that firms such as Unilever cannot innovate anymore. They license other inventions and buy startups to absorb innovations. It seems a tragedy that such businesses have lost their ability to do breakthrough thinking. But, for startups in the food and wellness space, it has been a huge boon. Unilever alone has acquired Paula’s choice skincare, supplement company Omnit, soap company Seventh Generation, and SmartyVitamins.

So, Nourish3D is sitting very pretty between all these food and health giants and a land of untold opportunities. It is well established that people are increasingly self-medicating themselves to feeling better about themselves and perhaps also better about their health. But, what’s next? Perhaps 3D printing?

In its Colgate-branded form, Nourish3D is somewhat of a novelty. But, in its broader Nourish3D form, the company is able to, based on surveys, spit out limited-custom formulated supplements. If this could be expanded with medical tests or blood strips and more highly personalized products, then the company could be very valuable. Indeed it could really help certain patient groups, people with certain diseases, or to just generally improve one’s very own health to your exact requirements. We don’t yet know if the large companies will take personalized medicine and wellness seriously but this is a good sign.

This is also good news for Singapore’s CraftHealth, which manufactures machines that can 3D print personalized medicine and nutrition. CraftHealth is developing the entire process of personalized nutrition and health from manufacturing to pill taking, which Nourish3D may or may not also be pursuing through its Script3D brand. Rather than focus on that, Nourish3D went for being faster-to-market, which looks wise for now.

Another Singapore firm, Anrich3D, which 3D prints personalized food, could very well also benefit from this. Despite its decidedly unhealthy name, Sugar Lab, which 3D prints food, could also benefit from this. It’s hard to say at this point what this project will mean for 3D printed nutritional supplements or what form that market will take one. On the whole, expect to see the sharks circling.

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