Foods that are perceived to bring added health benefits are forecast to be among the fastest growing market trends over the next decade, according to a new report from the NPD Group.
The report, A Look into the Future of Eating, suggests that organic and low-calorie foods in particular will experience a surge in popularity as the baby boomer generation gets older.
The report’s author and director of product development at NPD Ann Hanson said: “As the population ages, levels of concern regarding food and nutrition are expected to rise. For this reason, ‘better for you’ food options are forecasted to grow strongly over the next ten years.”
But even more than low-calorie and diet options, it is the organic sector which is predicted to experience to strongest growth – 41 percent over the next decade, compared to 18 percent for light/lite/diet/low-calorie labels.
Hanson told FoodNavigator-USA.com: “As they grow older, people are more likely to be overweight, to diet, and to have medical conditions. Attitudinally, they are more likely to be concerned about certain things…There is a growing awareness among consumers in general about healthy eating. People are becoming more sophisticated.”
She added that the study’s findings have major implications for food companies in terms of long-term product development.
Interest in organic foods has boomed over the past decade, although the sector’s growth has slowed recently as consumers have felt the pinch during the economic crisis.
Supply and demand
However, if the NPD Group’s prediction is correct that older consumers will ditch non-organic foods and help to reinvigorate the organic market, there are concerns that US suppliers may struggle to keep up with demand.
A recent report from the US Department of Agriculture said that although certified organic acreage has doubled in the US since 1997, organic food sales have quintupled over the same period, from $3.6bn to $21.1bn last year. This has led handlers to look to international markets for supplies – which can often be cheaper due to lower labor and input costs.
Older consumers are also expected to show an interest in ingredients for health and wellness, so as their numbers swell, so will sales of foods with added health benefits. “Even though obesity is not expected to outpace population growth – we expect that nearly half of our population will continue to be overweight or obese and, tied with the aging of the population, will bring rising medical concerns,” said the report.
“Healthy options for ‘heart health’, for diabetics, for weight control or loss, and to address other health-related needs should also represent a growing opportunity.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of Americans aged 65 or over is expected to more than double by 2030 compared to 2000 levels, from 35m to 71m. It says that the rapid increase in the global median age is due to two factors: A 20-year increase in average lifespan during the second half of the twentieth century, and decreasing fertility.