Golden years – NPD targeting the needs of the healthy aging market

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04 Sep 2017 --- September is Healthy Aging Month, an annual event initiated by Healthy Aging magazine in the US, so there could be no better time to explore the latest industry opinions on the healthy aging space. 

The month’s activities encourage people to rejuvenate and get going on positive measures that can impact the areas of physical and mental wellness, and the healthy aging nutritional products that are available and coming soon are looking to meet these needs.

This is no niche market. The global population will significantly jump by 2050, set to account for 34.2 percent of the population in Europe and increase in Latin America from 11.2 percent in 2015 to 25.5 percent by 2050.

What does this mean for nutrition businesses? Innova Market Insights presented data at the IFT Food Expo in Las Vegas showing that for the 40 plus category, thinking about keeping “fit and beautiful” is a priority that can mean more of a focus on skin and digestive health as well as overall immunity. 

Meanwhile, for the 60 plus age group, challenges center on staying independent, meaning an emphasis on brain and heart health alongside mobility. For those in the 80 plus category, keeping well, staving off disease and illness are significantly higher priorities (dysphagia, malnutrition and sarcopenia), and functional foods become entwined with receiving medical attention. These different health concerns drive product developments.

Today, in the first part of a special report, NutritionInsight investigates the thoughts of the companies working in the healthy aging space on new market opportunities and innovations.

Market opportunities and challenges
“Society is aging – especially in developed countries – at high speed,” Dr. Ludger Eilers, Director of Food Ingredients at Evonik Health Care, tells NutritionInsight. “The share of people over 60 years [in] the world population is growing by over 3 percent per year and age-related health conditions are becoming more significant. Consumers are becoming more and more concerned about these trends and see rapidly increasing numbers of age related health conditions.”

“In parallel, knowledge around such health conditions is increasing and available to the consumer through channels such as the internet,” Eilers adds. “The nutraceutical and functional food industries need to find answers to these challenges, and the advanced food ingredients industry needs to support [them]. What are needed are natural ingredients with proven health benefits which address the unmet consumer needs and pains. Besides these, pure ingredient taste masking is a big challenge. Taste and taste preference is changing with age and those physiological changes need to be addressed as well. Last but not least, swallowing of consumer products is perceived [to be] difficult by many elderly consumers.”

Click to EnlargeMeanwhile, DSM has noted from survey results that nutrition to address older people’s health concerns – such as bone and joint health, eye health and weight – could be a growth area among the over-51 age group. “Only a small number of people from this age group are using nutrition to address these concerns, with just 20 percent stating they consider nutrition for eye health,” Maria Pavlidou of DSM states in the July/August 2017 The World of Food Ingredients NutritionInsight Magazine. “We expect to see these numbers change in the future, with more mature adults considering nutrition as a method of supporting specific health concerns.”

The economic power of older people in the future will be hard to ignore. “According to Tetra Pak, by 2020, one in five people globally will [be aged] 60 and over,” says Bryan See, Business Development Manager at ExcelVite. “This group of seniors represents spending power of US$10 trillion. Products with an anti-aging/longevity message will be appealing to this group of consumers who want to live longer and healthier.”

Dagmar Ortlepp of Glanbia Nutritionals believes that consumers are starting to worry about their health at a younger age than they used to. “Awareness is continuing to grow about the importance of healthy aging – particularly as the population becomes increasingly older,” she notes in NutritionInsight Magazine. “In the G20 group of nations, the 50 plus population is expected to grow by 37 percent to 1.8 billion in the next decade and a half.”

Consumer trends
Consumers’ desire to slow down the aging brain is hard to ignore. “We notice a strong interest towards cognitive health products and put a lot of emphasis into their development, including studies,” notes Eilers.

ExcelVite has noticed three trends within the healthy aging space. “Trend No 1 – products with multiple active ingredients, instead of a one-size-fit-all approach to address conditions related to aging,” says See. “For example, dietary supplement companies are formulating multivitamins – with Vitamin E Complete or standalone Vitamin E Complete – that [consist] of all eight isoforms of the vitamin E family (alpha, beta, gamma and delta), tocotrienol and tocopherol for healthy cognitive function and antioxidant activity for [healthy aging].”

“In addition to the above trend of synergistic product combination, more and more consumers are drilled with the knowledge that they need to absorb the supplements they take to gain maximum health benefits instead of just ‘expensive urine’ – a term made popular by negative press about dietary supplements,” See continues.

“Hence, trend No 2 is about absorption (bioavailability) of these ingredients for healthy aging. Fat-soluble ingredients such as tocotrienol or CoQ10 are often poorly absorbed,” See says. “The oral bioavailability of tocotrienol is low and erratic by nature. To improve absorption, a person will need to consume tocotrienol after a meal consisting of oily food. Under this situation, although the amount of tocotrienol being absorbed is increased, the level absorbed is still inconsistent and varies according to the amount and type of fats that have been consumed.”

“It does not just end at absorption/bioavailability,” See adds. “Trend No 3 in the industry is ‘bioefficiency’ – the accumulation or deposition of an active phytonutrient into various vital human organs.”

By Paul Creasy

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