Are We Prepared for the Aging Society? Mintel’s Report on Future Diets for the Elderly

Recently, a globally renowned market consulting firm called Mintel published the “2023 Global Food and Beverage Trends Report”.

According to the report, there are many trends predicted for the future of food and beverages, some of which are quite surprising. For example, there will be a specific focus on developing foods for crisis situations, such as in the event of a comet hitting the earth. These foods will be able to last for ten years or more without going bad, making them ideal for those seeking long-term survival. It may sound like something out of a science fiction novel, but it could be a reality in the not-too-distant future.

Another trend mentioned in the report is the need for information reduction in food packaging. Currently, there is too much information on food packaging, making it difficult for consumers to focus on the key information. The solution to this problem is information reduction, simplifying the information on food packaging. This unique angle could revolutionize the way we think about food packaging.

Now, let’s get to the main point.

I read a key trend from this report: future diets are preparing for an aging society. You may feel that supermarkets and restaurants have many foods that cater to young people, but there are few foods prepared specifically for the elderly. In the future, with many places entering an aging society, foods specially prepared for the elderly will become mainstream. For example, Japan, which has entered an aging society earlier, already has a market of 160 billion for elderly care food.

Speaking of elderly food, many people may think of foods that are low in oil, salt, easy to chew, and nutritionally balanced, etc. However, if you think so, you may be oversimplifying elderly food.

According to Mintel’s report, we will have many exciting foods to eat when we get older.

Firstly, it is possible that we can safely eat sugar. 

The mature synthetic biology technology will enable a higher-quality alternative sweetener called allulose to be mass-produced at a lower cost. The alternative sweeteners currently on the market all have their own issues. For example, although aspartame is a mature technology, its taste is not good. Erythritol, on the other hand, can easily react with intestinal flora, causing gastrointestinal discomfort. Allulose, however, has almost no flaws. Its taste is almost the same as sugar, but its calories are only one-tenth of sugar.

Not only that, but researchers have also come up with an even more innovative way to develop food – 3D printing! They discovered that our sense of taste is mostly based on the outermost layer of food. For instance, 3D-printed chocolate is only sweet on the surface, but not on the inside. However, when people taste it, it’s almost indistinguishable from regular chocolate. This means that if food is printed using this method, as long as the outer layer tastes right, the inside can be replaced with healthier ingredients. For example, if the outer layer calls for pork belly, it can still be used, but the inside can be substituted with lower-calorie ingredients. This is especially beneficial for elderly people who require low-fat and low-oil diets.

In the future, food will not only focus on taste but also on the context in which it is consumed. For example, there are already people researching specialized diets for space travel. As space travel becomes more affordable and accessible, this could become a popular trend for the general public. Since we are taking steps towards space exploration, our food must also evolve to adapt to this new environment. Reports predict that space-appropriate diets will be a trend in the future. For instance, zero-gravity food must be nutritionally balanced, have lightweight packaging that can be recycled, and most importantly, not be crumbly. This is because food debris floating around a zero-gravity environment can be problematic. It’s amazing how thorough these studies are!

And in the future of food, the focus will not only be on physical strength but also on brainpower. There is a saying in the food industry that modern people’s dietary structure is still stuck in the industrial age, focusing mainly on supplementing physical strength. However, in the information age, people also need to supplement their brainpower. Such foods will also become mainstream in the future, such as foods containing caffeine, vitamin B complex elements, or other things that are good for the brain.

You see, if you think about it, won’t the food we can eat be wonderful when we get old? Not only delicious but also able to enhance our cognitive abilities and even take us to the sky.

Of course, we cannot only focus on the positive side but also need to see the challenges facing the future of food.

According to a report by Mintel, the biggest challenge is not the nutritional content, whether it is healthy or green. The fundamental challenge is whether there will be enough food to meet the growing population. According to the United Nations’ prediction, the world population will exceed 10 billion by 2100, resulting in a significant increase in food demand.

You may say that with the rapid development of agricultural technology, how can there not be enough food to eat? However, in terms of food consumption, there is a law called Bennett’s Law. It means that as income increases, people’s consumption of staple foods will decrease, while the consumption of fruits, vegetables, and meat will increase. By 2050, global demand for vegetables will increase by more than 60%, and demand for meat will increase by 70%. The concern is whether there will be enough of these types of food to meet the demand. In other words, there may be enough bread and pancakes, but can vegetables, fruits, and meats keep up? This requires more effort in food technology.

However, as they say, often a list of problems is also a list of opportunities. And the future is the sum of answers corresponding to this list of problems.


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Are We Prepared for the Aging Society? Mintel’s Report on Future Diets for the Elderly

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