The Opportunity in Targeting the Malnourished Elderly

Discussion
Feb 01, 2010
Bernice Hurst

By
Bernice Hurst, Contributing Editor, RetailWire

In
an effort to secure its foothold in the nutrition sector, Nestlé has
identified a new market – elderly people who may suffer from malnutrition.
Drinks, which claim to fight malnutrition among the elderly, will
enter the Swiss market this year. Resource SeniorActiv supplements
are said to include protein, calcium and vitamin D to promote muscle
strength and prevent bone fractures. The company says that other
ingredients promote digestive health.

Nestlé’s
plan is to "expand Resource SeniorActiv in other European countries,
because as many as 40 percent of hospitalized patients are malnourished.
About 90 percent of the elderly are deficient in vitamin D, and half
don’t get enough protein or calcium," the company said.

Chief
executive officer Paul Bulcke pledged in 2008 to make Nestlé the
world’s biggest healthy eating company. Already the world’s largest
food company, its products include everything from confectionery
to its most recent acquisition of Kraft Foods Inc.’s frozen-pizza
operations in the U.S. and Canada. The latter is said to contain
as much as 70 percent of the daily-recommended amount of saturated
fat.

Nestlé Nutrition
includes the Jenny Craig weight-loss programs as well as a number
of nutrition products aimed at infants, weight management and healthcare.

In
addition to the drinks, Nestlé’s Revised Mini Nutritional Assessment
Short Form (MNA-SF), needs less than four minutes to help medical practitioners
"better identify those who would most benefit from oral nutritional
supplements."

Commenting
on the twin track initiatives, Richard Laube, CEO Nestlé Nutrition,
said, "These are concrete actions to tackle a substantial healthcare
and social issue. The older population is growing faster than any other
segment. Older people are generally vulnerable to malnutrition and
can slip into a spiral of muscle and weight loss resulting in fatigue
and loss of independence. Targeted nutrition can make a big difference
and screening for malnutrition is vital to getting a grip on the issue
as a whole."

Discussion
Questions: How do you rate the opportunity to provide nutritional
products for the elderly?
As the boomer population ages, what other food-related opportunities
do you see on the rise?

[Author’s
commentary] With predictions about growth in the worldwide population
of older people this century, combined with forecasts of longer-term
food shortages, Nestlé may
be jumping into a market full of opportunity. Preventing malnutrition
in such a large group may also turn them into heroes.

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16 Comments on "The Opportunity in Targeting the Malnourished Elderly"


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Shilpa Rao
Guest
11 years 3 months ago

Well, I see a lot of opportunity here. Elderly people have several dietary restraints either due to medical conditions or due to aging taste buds, which could lead to malnutrition. Since the elderly might not be as savvy in reading the nutritional facts and understanding their benefits, these products definitely need to be marketed differently to reach them.

W. Frank Dell II
Guest
11 years 3 months ago

Nestle has identified a major opportunity, but one not easy to crack. With seniors living on fixed incomes, inflation even at low levels reduces their disposable income and this includes money for food. The price will be a key factor in Nestle’s success. Another factor is, many single seniors are motivated to prepare meals. As their metabolism slows down, they are not as hungry. This leads to malnourishment.

Doron Levy
Guest
Doron Levy
11 years 3 months ago

The boomers are the biggest group coming online, so of course you want products to target to that market. Hungry old people? Why not? If the Dancing Billy Bass can succeed, feeding the malnourished elderly will most likely work.

Healthy living and wellness is a category with huge opportunity as the boomers go from booming to the early bird special at IHOP. Groceries and pharmacies are readying their healthy living sections for the upcoming onslaught of customers. Are we asking about the moral implications of servicing this particular area of retail? I say there is none. If there was no profit potential, there would be no innovation or solutions to problems.

David Livingston
Guest
11 years 3 months ago

This sounds like a good area to focus on. Generally in this country, the elderly are pretty well off financially, yet often are a bit tight with their money. The key will be getting them to loosen up their purse strings. Whole Foods and other organic stores have seen this opportunity and have opened up stores in retirement areas such as Phoenix and south Florida, targeting the over 55 crowd that has been getting into whole health.

Gene Hoffman
Guest
Gene Hoffman
11 years 3 months ago

Age creates taste preferences and hard-to-break habits. It also profiles new nutritional needs of our aging bodies. Those companies that can find comfortable and acceptable ways to blend human stubbornness with physical practicalities have a large untapped market before them. Nestle has the experience and the worldly scope to take the lead–and should.

Dave Wendland
Guest
11 years 3 months ago

It’s a reality–we are all aging. And with that comes a number of challenges. We have been actively involved in the family caregiving space for nearly six years (the number of unpaid family caregivers now accounts for an estimated 67 million people in the U.S.) and we have seen “nutrition” as one of the major challenges they face. Not only is there a gap in understanding of what good nutrition means, there is an added element of confusion surrounding many elderly. This, coupled with a shift to the left to home-based care rather than intuitional or skilled nursing, presents a huge unmet need.

I applaud Nestle’s initiative and believe if it is approached with compassion, honesty, and without disregard for the family caregiver, proper nutritional care can be presented with dignity.

Peter Milic
Guest
Peter Milic
11 years 3 months ago

The word “malnourished” has two connotations–one relating to an inadequate diet and the other relating to an improper diet. Clearly, the focus of Nestle will be on the second issue, which may or may not be the more significant problem.

Intuitively, there is every reason to believe the opportunity is great. As we all know, seniors are a large and growing market. As an individual who is only a few years away from entering the Nestle target group, I am not certain that my nutrition needs will be any different than what they are now. Moreover, is a lack of Vitamin D and Calcium simply a consequence of the fact that many of the processed foods that I consume now do not offer much in the way of nutrition. I think it would be better to improve what is already being sold than to create new alternatives.

Max Goldberg
Guest
11 years 3 months ago

As the population ages, particularly in the US, Western Europe and Japan, there are many opportunities to target this market segment. Nestle is hitting a bulls-eye with its nutritional foods. Its success may hinge on Nestle’s ability to connect with the elderly.

The senior market needs to be broken into segments. One product does not fit everyone over 55. Functional foods can serve many of these segments in valuable ways.

Roger Saunders
Guest
11 years 3 months ago

Tough to argue with demographics. While the world population continues to grow, with improved health, longevity marches on. In the U.S. alone, by 2050, forecasts call for nearly 100 million people being 60+, that’s up from some 30 million Adults today.

By Nestle getting on top of this opportunity today, they will be assuring a promising future for the organization, in the U.S., and throughout the world. Sound thinking.

Ryan Mathews
Guest
11 years 3 months ago

There are a couple of critical elements here. The first, articulated well by Gene Hoffman, has to do with people being set in their ways. The second is that in many cases, malnutrition in seniors has root causes in areas supplements can only help after the fact–poverty, lack of knowledge, dementia and abandonment. Cure those social ills and the problem of malnutrition should significantly diminish.

Mel Kleiman
Guest
11 years 3 months ago

Great market, great move, and great opportunity. Not only do you serve a market but you help people whose bodies have changed and who need different food to support the changes.

When it comes to the nutrition markets, we are way behind in the way we treat ourselves compared to the way we treat our dogs. Walk any dog food aisle and you will see product designed for every age group.

Michael L. Howatt
Guest
Michael L. Howatt
11 years 3 months ago

The big question is, who will be paying for it? Many Baby Boomers’ retirement funds took a big hit during the recession. A smart move by Nestle would be to get the government to help share some of the expenses. This may not be as daunting a task as it seems. Michelle Obama has targeted obesity in children and I believe the welfare of healthy elderly is next.

Janet Dorenkott
Guest
Janet Dorenkott
11 years 3 months ago

I think it’s a great opportunity, but Nestle didn’t invent it. Abbott Nutrition has been selling to this group with its Ensure product for a couple years now.

Anne Bieler
Guest
Anne Bieler
11 years 3 months ago

This could be a good opportunity for Nestle. There seems to be lots of room beyond supplements and shakes. Certainly there is a large group, especially those living on their own, who could benefit from having nutritionally sound, easy to use and prepare food products. They could be fill-in times as well as main meals.

Some elderly require help with shopping and some tasks, but can get simple foods ready to serve. As discussed, price will be a factor, and a number of good suggestions have been made to help here. Better nutrition has to help many of our senior citizens have better lives.

Marketing should include education at a number of levels. Packaging should be simple, appropriate, EASY to open, pour, store in the pantry, re-closable with clear messaging and simple cooking instructions…all good opportunities.

Tim Henderson
Guest
Tim Henderson
11 years 3 months ago
Kudos to Nestle for seeing the future and acting on it today. It’s no secret that the fastest-growing segment of the population worldwide is the senior consumer. But many companies have been slow to respond to the opportunity represented by the changed and changing lifestyles of aging consumers. And one of those changing lifestyle elements is certainly nutrition. Nestle is very smartly moving ahead of the pack by learning how to serve seniors. One thing that has stymied the silver industry’s growth is that the focus of attention seems to always be on boomers. Yes, that demo is huge in number and is currently beginning to age into the senior life stage. But by focusing on boomers only–rather than on the entire senior demographic which includes both boomers and the current crop of millions of senior citizens–it leaves the impression that brands have years remaining to begin developing senior-specific products and services. Not so. Today’s seniors, like tomorrow’s boomers, also need products designed for aging lifestyles. Every company that serves consumers should note: If you… Read more »
John Crossman
Guest
John Crossman
11 years 3 months ago

I am a big fan of this. We have a gentleman in our neighborhood who we check on that is 80 and has dietary needs. The choices are limited and it is wonderful to see a retailer reaching out.

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