Around a quarter of the region’s population will be over the age of 60 by 2050, up from 11% in 2016.
And bearing in mind the cost — or in some less developed nations, the absence — of healthcare, the nutrition sector has a considerable opportunity to help meet the needs of ageing consumers.
Speaking at a session at Vitafoods Asia, Innova Markets insights chief editor Robin Wyers said aged-based innovation was a must.
“Supplements are still the biggest category for healthy ageing products, with food and beverage accounting for under 1%. However, we have found in Asian markets this is far more developed than in Europe and the US.
“Between 2012 and 2016, 81% of new food and beverage products marketed at seniors were in Asia.”
He said the most popular health claims were around digestive, brain, heart and bone health.
Looking ahead, Iris Hardewig from Analyze & Realize said there was considerable potential to utilise anthacyanins that were not yet marketed at the older consumer, while she pointed out that TCM and Ayurveda ingredients were gaining momentum outside of Asia.
Vitamin D deficiency
When it comes to China, DSM’s Weiguo Zhang said vitamin D deficiency remained a major concern among the elderly population.
“For many people, their exposure to sunshine is reducing. One reason is due to pollution and the other is due to the culture — Asian people like to have light skin. All of this is contributing to a lack of vitamin D.”
He said it was imperative that this was tackled at a younger age so people had a better chance of a healthy older age.
“When we are talking about anti-ageing and reducing osteoporosis, bone mineral density is highest at 30, and then it declines. A preventative approach is needed, from both a healthcare and an economic perspective.”
Herdwig agreed, adding: “Prevention is vital for the ageing population. We know that as life expectancy increases, so will the period where more intensive healthcare is needed.
“It is one of the responsibilities for the industry to help with that, because there is a chance to delay this through nutrition.
“The industry needs to not only develop these products, but market them better for different cultures.”