There is currently a population shift occurring. Those born between 1946 and 1965, commonly known as “baby-boomers” are becoming the seniors in the population. The baby boomer generation are well educated, have worked hard all their lives to provide for their families and convenience is a major driver for this group, unlike the previous senior market, because it has enabled them to fit everything into their lives! However, this generation is now moving towards retirement!
There is a problem though. While everyone is watching out for the Millennials and addressing their needs, there is very little being done for this important segment of the population.
The over 50’s population has more than doubled since ‘96 and there are estimated to be over 2 billion citizens globally over 50 by 2025. In Ireland alone there are currently 1.5 million consumers over 50 and this is expected to rise by 15% over the next 5 years. This same trend is evident all across Europe (MCCP).
Attitudes of the 50+ Consumer
Pre-seniors (40-49 year olds) are currently healthy and active. Young seniors (50-60 year olds) are aware that they are getting older and some require medication on a regular basis. Middle seniors (60-70 year olds) are managing at least one illness, seniors (70-80 year olds) exhibit health issues and acute illness and great seniors (80+ year olds) show a loss of independence and severe health issues.
Seniors want to be impervious to aging. One in four 65-74 year-olds still earn a wage. Of 7.3 Million people aged 55-64 year-old, 5.3 Million are in full time employment and 2 Million in part time employment (Aviva Real Retirement Report, 2012). 23% of 65-74 year-olds cite wages as an income source and seniors strive to retain independence and are in fact flourishing. The cottage industry is really thriving at the moment and a really good local example is “A Taste of Irish Spirit” Poitin Marmalade run by Betty Smith and her husband in Bandon, Cork. Both are now in their 70’s and are supply over twenty Supervalu stores with their great product.
Seniors are mentally and physically more active than ever before. Healthy life years are now a necessity where the focus has shifted from quantity of years to quality of years. Seniors are aging physiologically faster. U.S. baby boomers have higher rates of chronic disease, more disability and lower self-rated health than members of the previous generation at the same age (Huffington Post 2013). In Ireland, from the recent TILDA report (The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing) 67% of Irish participants in the survey are suffering from at least 1 lifestyle related illness that requires medication. So in order to minimise the effect of these illnesses our nutrition and the food we eat is very important.
At home, malnourishment is becoming the norm. 5-15% of the EU population suffer from some form of malnutrition. What is shocking though is that this rises to 40% among those admitted to hospital and to 60% for those in residential nursing homes (MCCP). It is therefore a lot more cost effective and better to keep people at home & healthier than allowing them to enter the hospital system (Furman 2006).
The main health issues are:
- Sarcopaenia or Muscle loss – due to poor protein intake and meal skipping
- Diabetes – high sugar intake, high levels of body fat and minimum exercise
- Obesity -Poor fibre, high fat & sugar intakes and meal skipping and low exercise levels
- Heart Risk – Low Monounsaturated Fatty Acids, high Saturated Fatty Acids intake, high salt, low potassium, low fibre intake
- Bone health -Poor vitamin D, Calcium & Magnesium intakes
Social isolation is a key driver for malnutrition where many 50+ers are not able to comply with balanced nutrition and regularly skip meals. Compliance is an issue because of:
- Uninterested in food. Their family have left the home or they may be on their own so there is less motivation to cook.
- With busy schedules, be it work or social, it can be hard to find the time to eat a regular meal
- Difficulty in accessing food through packaging.
- Limited access to shops because of reduced mobility or tired of walking around the expansive hypermarkets which are located on the outskirts of towns.
Nutrition addressing the needs of the 50+ population is not being addressed by the food industry. The main areas that need to be addressed to keep an ageing population active are bone health, heart health, mental health and diabetes. Also with the rise of the “Silver Surfer” online food sales are increasing as seniors are becoming more familiar with e-commerce.
Meet Life Kitchen – a healthy and fresh meal service, that brings together the best ingredients, nutritional principles and care, delivered to your door. We offer a wide range of wellness drinks, soups, main courses and truly healthy desserts that provide you with 50% of your daily protein requirement, have healthy fats, and give you 3 of your 5 a day!
All our ingredients are sourced locally and are of the highest quality which gives you the best nutritional boost possible.
We care about our customers and we really want them to be involved in our community because eating should be a social experience. So we run Dinner Clubs through the year where you can come along to a local restaurant, have a dinner for free and there is a social or educational aspect such as internet classes, a nutritional talk etc. We also have a closed group on Facebook where you can talk to other subscribers and where we can talk and interact with you on a regular basis.