Questioning 900 seniors aged 60 to 75 of their reasons behind the purchase of foods such as protein shakes, powders, bars, vitamin drinks and supplements, 62% of seniors in Germany, 81% in Italy and 60% in the UK stated ingredients to be the top purchase driver.
The secondary driver in Germany and Italy was past experience while, in the UK, price took second place.
“A growing number of manufacturers are already acting on the opportunities to aim new food products at the healthy nutrition market,” said Leonardo Rubio Anselmi, regional beverage and bars marketing manager at DuPont.
“With our survey, we wanted to understand the main health concerns of the senior consumer group, which kinds of nutritional products they already buy and what triggers their purchases. Such insights help define the best market positioning for new products.”
Industry efforts to aid the elderly
The survey highlights the challenge of a rapidly ageing population in Europe. According to Eurostat, by 2040, more than one in four EU citizens will be above the age of 65.
Market analysts Euromonitor believe that seniors risk up to a decade of declining health in their later years, with a compromise on life quality.
The grim prospect has shifted the limelight to food manufacturers, who are already acting on this opportunity by launching products that consider the specific nutritional needs of the senior segment.
While not specifically targeted towards the elderly, foods such as Cal-in+, a yoghurt containing vitamin D and calcium for strong bones is marketed to protect against age-associated losses in bone mass.
Danish firm Arla Food Ingredients have made available a whey form called Lacprodan, which can act as meal replacements to tackle the hospital malnutrition problem.
However, small and medium-sized enterprises appear to have firmly grasped this opportunity to address nutritional shortfalls within the elderly population.
EU project INCluSilver announced last month its intention to offer financial aid to firms working on personalised nutrition for the elderly.
Businesses can apply online with up to €60,000 on offer to help develop “innovative ideas, products, and technology,” within the personal nutrition sector for the so-called “the silver economy” .
The three-year project is backed by the EU Horizon 2020 program with a fund of €2.8m already allocated for the project.
Further survey results
Dupont’s survey also recognised the link seniors made with protein, probiotics and prebiotics to maintaining good health.
In Germany, 36% of respondents knew of protein’s link to building muscle mass, while 20% were aware of probiotics’ links to immune support. Healthy digestion’s links to prebiotics and probiotics were recognised by 6% and 11% of the country’s population respectively.
Likewise, in Italy and the UK, 45% and 28% of each country’s elderly population were aware of protein’s link to building muscle mass.
Probiotics’ links to immune support were recognised by 36% and 26% of Italy’s and UK’s surveyed population.
Italy recorded 17% and 30% of its elderly, who recognised the healthy digestion’s links to prebiotics and probiotics respectively.
Similarly, the UK noted that 20% and 39% of its elderly population were aware that prebiotics and probiotics played a key role in boosting the digestive system.
“By consuming probiotic cultures and prebiotic fibre, they also support a good gut balance, which is key to a well-functioning digestive and immune system,” added Jane Whittaker, regional beverage application lead.
“We know, for example, that senior adults need to consume 1.2g of protein per kilo body weight a day and take regular exercise to maintain their muscle mass.”