Researching the elderly nutrition sector

With recent research broadening our knowledge, does elderly nutrition offer added value opportunities for dairy companies?

The latest research from Taiwan led by one of our affiliated consultants suggests that free-living elderly Taiwanese women aged 65+ cook more than their male counterparts and live longer because of it. Men can 'derive more survival advantage' by following suit!

Elderly nutrition research

The researchers note 'this gender difference may have something to do with men’s inability to cook to a similar health advantage as women with regard to food choice aptitude or extent of cooking skill'. This feature of the market and the conclusion to which it leads seem logical and it could be surmised that the same would apply in many markets around the world.

Extrapolation and stereotyping are dangerous. I recall this survey conducted in 2007 by Japanese advertising agency Hakuhodo, which focuses on Japanese aged above 50 – Japanese men cited cooking as their number one interest (19.9%), while women opted for computers (22.5%), sports (21.4%) and languages (20.9%). 

Fonterra – now with a Chair in Human Nutrition at the University of Auckland – makes the distinction between 'healthy ageing' and 'vulnerable ageing'. While a degenerative notion is caught up in the whole concept of ageing, there are many individuals who prosper throughout much of the ageing process.

Understanding the nutrition markets

In Europe, we are seeing a number of dairy companies seek added value opportunities in sports nutrition – Glanbia, Carbery and now First Milk. We have worked on engagements for others seeking similar opportunities in sports and clinical nutrition.

Elderly nutrition is a more specialised and, to date, less explored category than sports nutrition, which is often perceived as more glamorous by marketers (who are often young!). However, it seems likely that the more we understand the details of such topics, the more opportunities will present themselves.