- A new study from Bournemouth University researchers suggests that older consumers may not have sufficient protein intake. This happens because of challenges with eating and digesting certain foods, the flavor of protein products and consumers' perceptions of product healthiness, New Food Magazine reported.
- Manufacturers should employ the right ingredients, flavors and relevant education to attract older consumers because taste and perception of health remain critical factors for high-protein product development, according to researchers.
- Other key factors for manufacturers are cost and ease of preparation, such as developing prepackaged or precooked foods that easily provide better protein consumption.
Complications related to a low-protein diet include increased risk of falls and fractures, weaker immune system and higher risk of infection, according to New Food Magazine. But manufacturers, particularly those specifically targeting this demographic, can step in with products tailor-made for older consumers to help them move beyond protein intake issues.
This will be particularly important for the growing medical foods industry, as companies from Nestle to Hormel are embracing foods' ability to manage and treat chronic illnesses. The food as medicine concept is becoming more commonly accepted, but food can also treat certain deficiencies, such as protein or vitamins and minerals, that can reduce the risk of other resulting health complications.
A recent study from the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation examined baby boomers' attitudes and perceptions about food versus millennials. The study found that baby boomers were more focused on foods that helped with weight management, cardiovascular health and digestive health, which corroborates this new study's findings about why older consumers may not be consuming as much protein.
Meat, especially cuts high in saturated fat, have long been associated with cardiovascular issues and weight gain. Some older consumers have a difficult time digesting animal proteins. Manufacturers trying to push protein's benefits to those who hold onto negative perceptions of animal proteins or have a hard time once they eat them could promote plant-based proteins to this audience instead.