Speaking with DairyReporter.com, Benno van Mersbergen, business development manager, FrieslandCampina, said that the dairy sector "sees the opportunity" that lies in senior nutrition, but "nobody knows what to do."
“Our CEO keeps telling us that soon there will be more people in the world over 65 than under the age of five, and he’s mentioning that for a reason,” said van Mersbergen.
“Seniors are senior now and still have a long life ahead of them."
“They have time and money – that’s a new given. So there is a lot of potential there.”
But to take advantage of the opportunity that lies here, the dairy sector must first get its "head around" senior nutrition, he said.
"People don't want to be called old"
To date, van Mersbergen believes Nestlé has employed the best approach, with Meritene Activ in Spain.
According to van Mersbergen, Nestlé discovered that around 70% of Spanish grandparents spend time with their grandchildren daily.
With this in mind, it developed a series of adverts for Meritene Activ featuring grandparents playing with their grandchildren.
"It's a positive way to market to seniors," said van Mersbergen.
"These people don't want to be called old."
"If other companies took the same approach, the market would develop a lot quicker."
"We've done our homework"
To help its customers successfully break into the senior nutrition sector, FrieslandCampina is entering the product development process at an earlier stage.
Typically, ingredient suppliers like FrieslandCampina enter the process during product development, which it terms "phase three."
But it believes it essential to play a part in phases one and two, when manufacturers decide which benefits to offer and the "reason to believe."
"With senior nutrition, we have to come in two steps earlier," said van Mersbergen. "We've done our homework and we can support our customers in phases one and two."
"Usually it's not for us as an ingredients supplier to bring this expertise."
"But we want to develop this new and attractive segment."
“If the senior nutrition category develops, it will be good for the dairy industry in general. If the dairy industry develops, it’s good for FrieslandCampina.”
Once developed, the market for senior nutrition products could rival infant nutrition in terms of growth, van Mersbergen believes.
"We have several infant formula brands in Asia," he said. "We see that senior nutrition has the same potential."
"In my personal opinion, for the next five to 10 years infant formula will be bigger."
"But if you look at the figures, senior nutrition is runner-up in terms of potential."
"It will for sure become an important market," he added.