Interview with Taichi Inui, Nutrition Science & Advocacy APAC Manager at DSM
18 June 2021
How long have you been working at DSM and what are your responsibilities at DSM?
I have been at DSM since 2018 and come November, it will be my third year with the company. My role lies in nutrition science and advocacy. I leverage my professional background and academic experience to communicate the importance of nutrition and benefits of food ingredients in an accessible way.
What type of business division do you work for at DSM and which region(s) are your responsibility?
I am responsible for the advocacy of nutrition-based approaches to healthcare across the Asia Pacific region. Amongst consumers, my role lies in raising awareness of potential nutritional deficiencies and potential solutions to mitigate them. I also work with stakeholders in the private and public sectors to advance DSM’s cause of making brighter lives for all by way of making nutritional interventions affordable and accessible.
This is especially important in the Asia Pacific as food insecurity has doubled to 265 million in 2020. This is worrying as without fast and effective interventions, we will be at huge risk of not reaching the SDG targets of Zero Hunger and Good Health and backtrack on years of progress in eradicating global hunger.
What is the biggest challenge from COVID-19 on DSM and how has DSM responded to that?
The pandemic has made us realize the urgent need for a healthy and robust immune system. From the start of the pandemic, we have observed that more consumers are opting to have healthier diets, lifestyles, and are consuming more supplements as compared to pre-pandemic times – all done to improve immune health.
Vitamin D has long been recognized for supporting bone health and immune response. However, studies have also shown that vitamin D deficiency is very prevalent across South and Southeast Asia. Even in Singapore where sunshine is abundant all year round, around one-in-three Singaporeans are deficient in this vitamin. This is very worrying as it means that many could be at risk of having a suboptimal immune response in such times where immune health should be prioritized.
We provide our body with vitamin D in three ways, sun shine, food and supplements. These conventional ways take months to bring the body up to optimal levels of vitamin D.
We saw this as a serious health issue which required urgent fixing. This resulted in ampli‑DTM, a vitamin D supplement that works three times as fast as vitamin D3 supplements. This is also one of the few products that we have offered direct-to-consumer as we understood the need to address immune health challenges at scale.
COVID has put a spotlight on the importance of a strong and healthy immune system, how has DSM acted on this?
At DSM, we have always been committed to addressing the nutritional challenges and ensuring a better quality of life for all.
Unlike many of us that are privileged to be able to work from home, there are many that do not have such opportunities to do so. This includes healthcare workers, transport operators and many tradespeople working on the factory grounds.
As the health and safety of our employees are our biggest priorities, we decided very early on in the pandemic to allow employees to work from home, should their remit permit them to do so. However, we also wanted to ensure our employees on the factory floors felt that they were working in a safe environment.
To keep them safe and healthy, we launched ‘Optimize your Immunity’, a program which supplemented employees and their immediate family members with nutritional supplements. In addition, we wanted our employees to feel empowered to take care of their immune health and that of their loved ones for the long run. As such we also decided to have virtual lessons on tips to boost their immunities through diet, supplements, and moderate exercise. We hosted virtual cooking sessions as well as yoga sessions that employees can join wherever they are working. We also provided a list of dietary supplements we know contain sufficient amount of immunity building micronutrients to help the decision making for our colleagues.
How have your employees reacted to the “Optimize your Immunity” program?
The initiative was very well-received. We had employees posting images of themselves with their families on social media platforms commenting that they are in a better position to care for the health and wellness of their immunity.
The program did so well that following the first run, we had several other editions, with the latest being the distribution of our ampli-DTM supplements.
How does someone begin to make other companies understand this program is essential for their own employees?
We believe an employee-centric approach to HR management will be incredibly beneficial for the welfare of any company.
How this may be interpreted may be different for many different companies depending on the sector that they are in and the services they distribute.
For us at DSM, we champion creating brighter lives for all through sustainable for health solutions. As such, providing our employees with nutritional education and nutritional supplements was only natural for us to do.