According to Finnish dairy and food company Valio, the food industry should look to lessons from other sectors to fully capitalise on the massive opportunity presented by the healthy ageing market.
For the first time in history, across the globe, people aged over 65 now outnumber children under five, according to the UN. By the middle of this century, there will be more than twice as many. These facts clearly present massive opportunities for the food industry to capitalise on the specific needs of what is a rapidly expanding, and often affluent, consumer group keen to explore foods associated with slower cognitive decline.
The food industry should do more to meet the nutritional needs of the ageing population with reports showing that the number of new products launched for ‘silver surfer’ and ‘baby boomers’ pales in comparison to NDP targeting trendy millennials or Generation Zers.
According to Anu Turpeinen, nutrition research manager at Valio, the food industry should look to the health and beauty industry as an example of how to commercialise healthy ageing products.
“The beauty and personal care industry have established a successful business model for healthy ageing with products containing premium ingredients, in elegant packaging, and with positive language,” she said.
“The fashion industry has started featuring older adults in ads enjoying life and the food industry could do the same. There is ample scientific evidence on the importance of nutrition in healthy ageing and there are verified health claims to utilise in food products for healthy ageing.”
Food sector advertising should embrace quickly shifting attitudes towards ageing, she suggested.
“What ageing means is rapidly changing and the perception of ageing is changing. 60 is now the new 40. People naturally have concerns about ageing: a decline in cognitive functions, loss of independence, dementia ... thus, ageing adults are willing to invest in innovations that help them maintain their cognitive health and remain independent.”
While genetics and environment play their part, food and nutrition industries have significant means to enable healthy ageing.
“Although the foundations for good health are laid during early life, there’s plenty of evidence from epidemiological studies that what we eat affects the quality of life in later years,” concluded Turpeinen.