Nutrition and Functional Food for Healthy Aging
Eating is the most pleasure time in life. Being old and healthy at the same time needs balanced and nutritious diet following the nutrition flags. Comparing to other group of population, elderly needs all nutrients but less energy. When people are getting older, they might lose their appetites and struggle with eating disorders due to the reduction of eating ability such as swallowing difficulty, digestion and chewing problems. And also, some elderly who have congenital diseases might require special dietary. Therefore, innovative food should focus on functional food that can satisfy these requirements including easy to eat, swallow and digest while having good taste and consist of necessary nutrients including high quality of protein, complex carbohydrates, unsaturated fat, vitamins, minerals and phytochemical. The food industry is changing due to different requirements occurred by elderly people.
Silver Food Market is Booming!
The demand for elderly food is expanding rapidly in parallel with the increasing of senior population around the world. Also, many seniors concern more about nutritional deficiency and consequent ailments causing by having not enough nutrition. In 2025, the global silver food market is expected to exceed USD18 billion, growing from USD13.4 billion in 2018 or about 4.7% growth at CAGR, according to Global Market Insight. The major silver food market is in Europe which is likely to reach USD 6 billion by 2025. This caused by the raising in senior population in developed countries like Germany, France and Italy. Moreover, their governments also support by spending government expenditure on healthcare in the region and also augment product demand to meet nutritional requirements of the elderly. In Asia, the silver food market revenue was more than USD 4.3 billion in 2018 and it is forecasted to rise due to the booming trend in consuming supplementary products of elderly in China, Japan and South Korea. Here is the example of popular and in demand functional food for the elderly these days.
Texture modified foods and ready to eat meals for elders
The texture-modified food is found to be popular among senior citizens and in the healthcare sector as they are easy to eat, digest and swallow, suitable for the elderly and those who develop dysphagia as it can reduce the risk of chocking and inhaling food into the lungs. In the past, elder’s foods were usually in the form of blended texture and so, not appetizing. The appearance of the meals affects the mental health of elderly thus, there are many ongoing researches and innovation focusing on the development of new food product for the elderly that look ways nicer than blended foods. Texture modified foods is one of the famous choices among seniors and hospitals as there is no need to waste of time chopping vegetable and meat in small pieces.
Functional food and a new source of income for food industry
The increase in the aging population around the world has affected the growing demand for elderly food. Innovation food for elderly is considered as a new opportunity and a new challenge of Thailand’s food industry. Thailand has considerable potential for developing and producing food suitable for the elderly, thanks to our abundant natural resource, agricultural commodities, skilled workforce, lower labor cost and the ability to do a year-round farming. Food industry is considered as the country’s main source of income. Moreover, Thailand is one of the largest food exporters in the global market and ranks second in Asia. The industry’s value is worth about USD102 billion in 2017 which was approximately 23% of the total country’s GDP.
Smart Soup by the joining of CPF and Mahidol University
In Thailand, the big food company like Charoen Pokphan Foods (CPF) has joined forces with Mahidol University to study innovative food under the “Smart Food” concept which can be defined as foodffff5 containing natural ingredients with various health benefits to serve the demand in the elderly and hospitals. After researching and developing a lot of products, CPF has launched an innovative food called Smart Soup which comes with choices of flavors, easy and ready to eat. It is suitable for the elderly and patients who have less ability to chew and swallow safely or who are being fed by feeding tube. According to Ramathibodi Hospital, normally the hospital has to import blended diet for patients from other countries which are costly and it has to go through melting process before serving it which is very time-consuming. That’s why, smart soup was created and designed to be more convenient as it can be directly used with the feeding tube which can reduce the chance of contamination. The company has planned to upgrade elderly food to become a new range of products and export them to over 30 countries worldwide especially China, US and Britain. By developing innovative food for the elderly, the company is looking forward to an increase in its revenue by 10–12%, which equals to THB130 billion in 2019.