Over-45s are seeking out these foods in ever greater numbers, the report found, compared to 18-45 year olds who tended to view their health as “bulletproof”.
The report found rising interest and faith in whole grains which maintained a “health halo” , with interest increasing with age.
Interest in fiber remained virtually unchanged since 2006, while nearly 50 per cent of respondents consumed vitamin and mineral-fortified functional foods and beverages.
This interest was similar across age segments and over-45s and over-65s who had the strongest intention to use dietary supplements, although the rates were slightly less than in previous years.
Antioxidant foods experienced strong growth with four-in-ten frequently consuming “rich in” antioxidant foods, compared to only one-in-ten for foods that are only antioxidant-fortified.
“Not surprisingly, the ‘magic bullet’ status of antioxidants makes these ingredients more appealing to the 45+ age segments as they seek out solutions for better health,” the report states.
Omega-3s are another ingredient with star status, the report finds.
“Omega-3 has gained ‘rock star’ popularly since 2006, likely given the attention it has received in marketing and medical arenas.” Again over-45s are the keenest users, “presumably for its ‘heart benefits’.”
Iron-rich foods were one food group highlighted as having falling interest, although no specific reason is posited, but again, the use of terms like “rich in” performed better than terms like “added”.
“Consumers, particularly those in older age segments, are demanding more from their foods as they seek proactive ways to manage their health,” the report says.
“If given a choice, these consumers may opt for the product that is rich in or fortified with a key ingredient, not only because it provides a ‘health boost’, but also because it provides the psychological satisfaction of positive lifestyle management.”
It adds: “’Magic foods’ and antioxidants were relatively unknown not so long ago and now they are part of our everyday lives, both in terms of media exposure and medical findings. These ingredients provide additional health benefits that resonate with older age segments, and can provide a point of differentiation for food marketers.”
“The choices for marketers are to either highlight the presence of these ingredients in products, developnew products that include these ingredients (such as dark chocolate or berries), or add these ingredients (such as Omega-3) to existing product lines.”