This is according to a paper titled Healthy Ageing – The Emerging Trend from APAC, published by Alcimed, a consulting firm specialising in healthcare, biotech and agri-food.
APAC is currently home to 60% of the world’s senior population, with the number expected to double by 2050. It is the fastest ageing region in the world, mostly contributed by two of the most populous country, China and India.
Author of the paper, Florent Eveillard, who is also senior project manager at Alcimed, said APAC serves as a good launchpad to anticipate business opportunities, with its huge ageing population.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO), healthy ageing is the ability to maintain physical and mental health, but also the functional ability to enable active, productive, and independent life at older ages.
In the paper, Eveillard explained: “Healthy ageing is not limited to the elderly, but pre-seniors, general adults, all the way to children are also concerned by the quest towards healthy ageing.”
Research has linked childhood nutrition to health outcomes in older age groups.
However, with different age groups, brings different behaviours and challenges.
For instance, seniors would be more concerned about conditions such as osteoporosis, sarcopenia, dementia, adults and pre-seniors looking at prevention of chronic diseases, while products targeting children should focus on optimal nutrition for growth and preventing deficiencies.
For the dietary supplement and functional food industries, this means developing appropriate products for the various age groups.
According to the paper, the functional food market in APAC is projected to increase from US$51bn in 2019 to US$71bn in 2025.
Within this space, fortified food is one area that manufacturers and brands can explore.
One example is Nestle China’s Yiyang fortified milk for consumers in their 50s. The formulations are targeted for heart, brain and mobility health.
For younger consumers below 50, Nestle China rolled out its milk powder brand ‘Shu Chun’, under Nestle's Joyful Vitality series, which targets digestion and enhancing protein absorption.
In Japan, Kirin manufactures a probiotic water under the iMUSE brand, containing its proprietary Lactococcus lactis strain plasma with immunity-strengthening effects. It can be consumed on a daily basis for overall health management.
In Bangladesh, Frontier Nutrition is expanding its fortified snacks line with its flagship product being a fortified lentil butter to prevent malnutrition.
Fortification, especially of staple foods is important in reaching out to the population. In India, the Food Safety and Standards Authority India (FSSAI) recently revealed plans to make fortification mandatory for oil and milk.
In addition to fortified and functional foods, dietary supplements are also essential to fill the nutrition gap of the population to achieve the daily recommended level.
Japan’s FANCL is an example of a company developing supplements across the whole age range of healthy ageing consumers from 20s to 60+.
These cover supplements targeting eye care, muscle, joint, bone health, to cognitive function.
Meanwhile herbal supplements have huge potential, not least due to widespread consumer acceptance due to traditional Chinese medicine, traditional Ayurvedic medicine from India, and Jamu from Javanese traditional medicine.