Sunday, December 30, 2012

Designing foods for older people

I have just read an excellent article, by Kelly Hensel, who is the Digital Media Editor of Food Technology magazine. 

The Food industry is confronted by many opportunities and challenges as a large group of its most important customers age.

U.S. boomers are an 80 million strong group that and account for nearly 50% of CPG sales, or $230 billion (Nielsen, 2012).

As you will know, from reading this blog, relatively little attention is paid to the wants and needs of older consumers.

According to this article, more than 60% of U.S. adults ages 50–64 have been diagnosed with at least one chronic health condition such as arthritis, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure (Perishables Group, 2009), which is one of the main factors behind the exponential growth of functional foods and beverages in recent years.

I quote from the article:

Between goods that contain some kind of wellness claim and those in the medical/clinical foods segment, the global market value is estimated at $200+ billion. “Consumers are buying into these categories in order to lessen the perceived risk of contracting these conditions and to maintain health levels well into middle age and beyond” (Leatherhead, 2012). In fact, a majority of older consumers are concerned about age- related health issues, such as cognitive decline and heart disease.

This article has some great facts about the way the industry is responding and some suggestions for how it should change.

But don’t forget, the product (the food) accounts for a minority of the touchpoints that companies have got to get right if they are to succeed in servicing the older consumer. The book that Kim Walker and I wrote talks a lot about the issues of ageing and its affect on taste, smell and the way the mouth works. This article makes a good accompaniment if you are involved in the food industry.  Dick Stroud.

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