Food supplements for bariatric patients. A niche within a niche, but FitForMe, based in Rotterdam, is the global market leader in the segment. With tailored food supplements, we change lives and relieve pressure on healthcare. An adventure that started in a student home in Rotterdam.
‘Through our supplements, we aim to support patients, doctors and the entire healthcare system’.
– Simon Hamer, CEO FitForMe
When Simon Hamer looks outside from the eighteenth floor of the FitForMe office, he can still see the building where it all started. Together with Sjoerd van Berkel, still his partner, in a student home, because they were still busy studying. “What we did was pretty simple,” says Hamer. People filled in a questionnaire in their GP’s waiting room to find out what nutrients they were getting and how much. We compared that to the recommendations, and filled the gap with our dietary supplements. These were tailored to the customer’s needs, instead of a standard multivitamin.
From customers to patients
Fifteen years later, Hamer and Van Berkel are still doing pretty much the same. No longer just them from their student home, but together with 108 employees in fourteen countries, spread across all continents. All because an important switch the company made in 2009. After discussions with various doctors, the decision was made to focus on bariatric patients: people who need food supplements for a medical reason. Hamer: ‘This way, we can make a big impact on a small group, instead of a small impact on a big group. That fits our characters better.’
This is how FitForMe ended up in bariatrics. Hamer: ‘People who opt for bariatric surgery lose a lot of weight in a short period of time. This is the wanted result, but unfortunately, the procedure also results in a decreased intake and absorption of vitamins and minerals. As a result, people who undergo bariatric surgery often have other health problems. This ranges from hair loss, duller skin and poorer nails to even nervous disorders, anaemia and chronic fatigue’.
Deficiencies can be supplemented with our products, which are recommended by surgeons, dieticians and other healthcare professionals. ‘In 95 to 99 percent of the cases, one, tailored food supplement can really improve the nutritional status of bariatric patients. This means that they don’t have to go back to the hospital for vitamin injections or other treatments. By doing what we do, we indirectly relieve the healthcare system and therefore the economy. Bariatric surgery usually pays for itself within two to three years, because people feel better, are sick less often and are therefore more productive in their work’.
In the Netherlands, 400,000 to 500,000 people suffer from morbid obesity, of whom about 13,000 are operated on every year. For many of them, the FitForMe supplements are an indispensable factor for the rest of their lives, just like for hundreds of thousands of others around the world. We are the global market leader and, since last month, active on all continents.
Hamer: ‘The main reason our products are so effective is because we invest so much in scientific research. Because our products are being used for medical reasons, as a producer you have to have scientific evidence. We continue to invest time and money in research, including research into (morbid) obesity in children and pregnant women. We want to continue to add value for the patient and the healthcare professional, but also for the total healthcare system’.
Internationally oriented, Rotterdam based
Rotterdam will remain the home of FitForMe, Hamer is convinced. “Both Sjoerd and I are devoted to this city. The mentality suits us, we feel at home here. For our company, the international appeal of Rotterdam, as well as the international appeal of the Rotterdam hospitals, are important. We are looking at the hospitals here as serious future collaboration partners. Although we are internationally oriented, it is fun for us to work together with local companies and institutions. Where quality is always leading, of course. I would therefore like to appeal to anyone who thinks that nutritional supplementation can add something to the quality of life of patients in certain fields. We are agile in our fields of research and are certainly open to talking about it’.