In 2012 there were over 577 million people aged over 65 globally, but there remains a 7-year gap between life expectancy and healthy life expectancy, according to a Euromonitor analyst.
Speaking with NutraIngredients at VitaFoods in Geneva, Euromonitor International health and wellness analyst Diana Cowland said this gap presented an opportunity for the functional food industry.
“Across all regions the difference between total life expectancy and healthy life expectancy is seven years, rising to ten years in Latin America and Asia Pacific as of 2013. And I don’t know about you but I don’t want to spend seven years of my life in injury or in hospital,” she said.
“So this really provides a way manufacturers can also benchmark their products. If in five years’ time we see a reduction in the difference between healthy life expectancy and total life expectancy, are we increasingly going to see manufacturers offer products which target prevention and therefore offer consumers a healthier life overall?” she said.
She said despite this growing market, certain segments like cognitive health and eye health were “hard sells”.
“The problem with these health trends is it’s very difficult to see the perceived benefit, the consumer really struggles with that tangible efficacy that’s so important for a functional food and drink product. If we compare it to cardiovascular health, which saw sales of $7bn in 2013, brain health saw sales of just half a billion US dollars. What we notice here with cardiovascular health products is you can probably see a benefit in 30 days."
“On the other hand brain health is so much harder. Saying to someone: ‘You need to take this product for 20 years in order to perhaps be less at risk of developing Alzheimer’s,’ is a much harder sell than such a quick benefit. And as we know, increasingly consumers want that quick benefit from a product.”