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Many marketers are missing a big opportunity in functional food and drinks: the senior market.

Antiaging “Untapped” in Functional Food

Many marketers are missing a big opportunity in functional food and drinks: the senior market. This demographic (65 and older) is quickly expanding-yet marketing lags behind. Diana Cowland, senior health and wellness analyst, Euromonitor International (UK), will discuss this conundrum during her presentation at Vitafoods Europe on Tuesday, May 6.

“The opportunity to develop products for the aging is clear, as people are living longer as a result of healthier lifestyles and continuous medical advances,” she tells Nutritional Outlook. “In 2012, the size of the global population aged over 65 reached 597 million, and Euromonitor International estimates that by 2018, this figure will rise by 122 million individuals.”

Clearly, there is opportunity in this “growing and largely untapped consumer base,” she says. And products can target a range of age-related issues, including Alzheimer’s disease, vision loss, bone and joint problems, chronic cardiovascular disease, digestive health, and even beauty-from-within.

But marketing food and drinks to this group is challenging, she adds. For one, seniors do not want to be reminded that they are getting older. Secondly, seniors-and most consumers, for that matter-won’t stick with a product unless they feel/see results “within a reasonably short time frame,” Cowland points out.

Still, the options and opportunities are many. Food formulators can choose from more than 70 age-supporting functional ingredients, she says, including heavy-hitters like soy protein, galacto-oligosaccharides, fructo-oligosaccharides, vitamin D, B vitamins, iron, calcium, and omega-3 (specifically DHA)…the list goes on.

But before making that next great product, marketers should educate themselves on which chronic age-related conditions are most prevalent in the regions they plan to target. “Needs pertaining to local diet and awareness of functional ingredients should be considered,” Cowland adds, as well as “the level of aging [that may differ] between regions…There is no ‘one product for all.’”

Despite the challenges, marketers should persevere in serving these consumers. Not only is the potential huge; these customers have more to spend. “The antiaging trend is set to be predominantly driven by the developed markets as they, on the whole, have a higher mean age and a higher disposable income,” Cowland says.


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