Third Innovation Guild Meeting – Take-outs

Date: 17.01.2019

Topic: “How food industry could take the silver food train?”

INCluSilver challenges addressed in the meeting: “Diet and Food Production; Logistics, Design and Packaging.”

The third meeting tackled the question of the lack of knowledge and focus in the food industry on the needs connected to elderly nutrition. The focus is food producers, food R&D companies, food delivery services and other actors.
We know the food industry has been reshaping drastically in the past decade and we can see innovative solutions brought to the market every single day. However, when it comes to the elderly as a target group, there is still a big improvement window. Many innovations reflect what the companies think is best for the elderly, but do not take into account what the elderly really want and need. The question discussed will be – how to improve the convenience and efficiency of products and services for the elderly when it comes to food production, logistics and convenient packaging.

Solutions generated in the meeting

Make the elderly feel empowered – change the perspective in food production of what elderly need to what they want in R&D, but most importantly, in marketing.
Elderly consumers are still consumers, not patients so we should not treat them as sick and powerless. They want to have a CHOICE and feel empowered. With everyone talking about the special needs of the elderly and how the elderly’s diet needs to change with age, we questioned whether that is the right approach. Of course, your diet should go hand in hand with your health status, but you are still you – in most cases, you haven’t changed your taste preferences, so why should you all of a sudden drink some awful formulas for seniors which even points out how old you are and how different you are from the younger generation? We should develop products which taste as good as they are rich in the nutrients the elderly need.

That leads to another important point – companies need to work with elderly people to understand how this group wishes to be addressed. The fact you are over a certain age doesn’t make you less human, on the contrary – you are full of knowledge and experience, and you might be 75, but what matters is, how old or young do YOU feel? If you feel like 24, why should someone remind you of your real age and stop you from doing things you love? In terms of marketing, there needs to be a shift from anti-ageing to pro-ageing – it is a new exciting era of your life. Also, more ambassadors representing this group should be seen in commercial campaigns, such as Helen Mirren for L’Oréal. Grassroots solutions would be another example of a very efficient strategy in this case.

Moreover, different activities which connect people with similar interests could be created – e.g. growing their own food, preparing food together in communities etc.

Reaching-out to the elderly group using innovative ways
There is a disconnection between the actors involved in food production and the elderly. That is because of the historic rising power of the supermarkets where they were the driving force, not the consumers. Since it is hard for this group to obtain food products through different channels, it is also hard to reach out to them. How can that be solved?

Development of services such as Groupon with deals from different food places – since money can be a real issue when you stop working and enter the next phase of your life, special food deals for the elderly could be a great solution, not only taking care of their nutrition, but maybe even more importantly to bring as many people together (through platforms, events etc.) which makes it easier to reach them with products and services tailored to their wants and needs.

Involve the distributors and government more so we can have all the stakeholders engaged
As soon as the marketing approach changes, the area becomes way more attractive for all the stakeholders. At the moment, the distributors are not interested and there are not many efficient governmental campaigns promoting this group (in an attractive way as mentioned above). It is also in the governmental interest to keep as many of the elderly as possible out of the healthcare system which would save huge amounts of money.

Covering the agro-food, health, ICT, packaging, and creative industries sectors (part of five emerging industries comprised of Food, Personalised Medicine, Mobile Services, Mobility, and Creative)