Consumers seek functional foods for healthy ageing

7 Dec 2018

Mintel has named healthy ageing among its top trends for 2019, bringing opportunities for a broad range of ingredients focused on preserving wellness into old age.

Consumers seek functional foods for healthy ageing

Today’s consumers are prioritising health and wellness to help ensure their future wellbeing. For food and drink makers, age-related health concerns present a significant market opportunity, particularly when it comes to bone, joint, brain and eye health. According to Merrill Lynch, over-65s have an estimated spending power of $7 trillion a year.

However, even as people are living longer, a gap between life expectancy and healthy life expectancy persists. Mintel suggests manufacturers should take inspiration from the beauty industry, which uses positive language and a proactive approach to appeal to consumers of all ages. Just as those in their 20s and 30s are beginning to consider anti-wrinkle creams to preserve their future appearance, many younger consumers are also looking at how their diet may impact their future health.

The market research organisation says formulations should focus on good nutrition, flavour and convenience. From a nutritional perspective, vitamins and minerals, omega-3s, protein, co-enzyme Q10 and antioxidants are among the most common ingredients turning up in products marketed for their role in preventing particular health conditions associated with the ageing process.

Collagen is one of the trendiest ingredients of recent years, and companies like Rousselot and Gelita produce collagen peptides specifically intended to support joint, bone and muscle health, among other applications. Collagen ingredients are now appearing in a range of functional foods, confectionery, beverages and supplements, and they have come a long way in just a few years. As recently as 2010, Mintel noted that “collagen cuisine” was a niche trend in Japan, with retailers and restaurants promoting collagen-rich foods like pig’s trotters and shark’s fin for the anti-ageing market.

Meanwhile, companies like OmniActive Health Technologies are focused on the role of carotenoids for eye health, and lutein in particular. Although there are more than 600 carotenoids found in nature, only three occur in the macular of the eye, including lutein. Other ingredients gaining in popularity among ageing western consumers – such as turmeric and goji berries – may take inspiration from traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda as consumers increasingly look for foods with a long history of use.

Apart from specific ingredients, many ageing consumers have become more aware of dietary patterns linked to improved quality of life, the Mediterranean diet in particular. Characterised by high intake of fruit, vegetables, olive oil, fish, whole grains and legumes, researchers continue to investigate whether particular compounds prevalent in this way of eating could be responsible for the diet’s anti-ageing effects, such as certain fatty acids and polyphenols.

In the meantime, consumers are beginning to take a more holistic approach to their health and wellbeing, leading them to embrace functional foods and beverages, alongside healthier eating patterns.

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