You can expect to see some changes on your local grocery store shelves in 2012, according to a new report from Leatherhead Food Research, a U.K.-based market research firm. The aging population means changing consumer demands, so you can expect to see more foods with added health benefits (or claims of added health benefits). Further, younger consumers with food intolerances and preferences will drive demand for gluten-free items and dairy alternatives.
The reason for this major shift is due to the Baby Boomer generation entering its senior years. Baby Boomers are savvy consumers and don't take their health lightly, so they'll be looking for products that can help maintain good health as they age. Items like glucosamine (for joint health) and omega-3 fatty acids (for brain function) are top on the list of desires for this group.
Also important? Heart health. Researchers anticipate that demands will drive growth in this department, with product launches that claim to improve heart health by reducing plague buildup in arteries.
Even the younger consumer groups are impacting change in terms of food products. Food allergies, as well as a preference for cutting out certain harmful ingredients, will drive sales of gluten-free, dairy-free, reduced sugar and reduced fat food products in the coming years. Nuts, also a common and sometimes dangerous allergy, are also on the hit list. Researchers anticipate more nut-free foods over the next year or so.
The New York Daily News covers this new research and also points out some other up-and-coming food trends courtesy of Leatherhead:
- Reductions in fat, salt and sugar (big diet no-nos) will be common as manufacturers strive to meet nutritional guidelines.
- Convenience is still important. Even retired Boomers have busy lives, so prepared and time-saving meals will continue to be popular.
- Natural and organics will get a boost. Consumers are looking towards natural products, free of dyes and additives that have a reputation for being harmful over time or causing gastrointestinal upset. Organic produce and meats, among other items, will be commonplace.
- Buying local. Consumers are looking to boost their local economies, as well as cut down on transport costs, so they'll be increasingly seeking out locally-produced foods.
- Eco-friendly packaging. In tune with the organic and natural trend, packaging will also become more environmentally-friendly, making use of recycled materials when possible and an overall reduction in packaging.
- Flavor, flavor, flavor! Expect to see bold flavors and added use of spices to compensate for the flavors lost in the reduction of fat, sugar and salt.
And if you're looking to start a healthier lifestyle for 2012, check out these resources to get you motivated!
The USDA has a cool feature that allows you to track both your food intake (per the food pyramid - er, plate - guidelines) and physical activity.
U.S. News and World Report has a basic article with tips for senior diet and exercise -- oldie, but a goodie.
WebMD explains why it's never too late to get started with a healthy diet and exercise plan.
SeniorFitness is a complete website dedicated to providing resources and advice for older people who want to start a fitness routine. Check out their article on planning a menu for weight loss.
Do you have a favorite website or app that helps you track your diet and fitness? A great resource for seniors who want to start eating healthier or living a more active lifestyle? Let us know in the comments so we can share it with our audience!