Asia’s rapidly ageing population is one of the biggest demographic, economic and social challenges faced by policymakers and indeed society as a whole.
By 2050 there will be 1.3 billion people over the age of 60 across the region, up from around 650 million today.
Add into the mix the rising prevalence of non-communicable diseases such as obesity and diabetes, and it is clear that this is a ticking timebomb, both in terms of the health cost burden and the proportion of retired citizens versus those in work.
However, where there are challenges there are opportunities, and what appears to be a perfect storm provides ample scope for the food, beverage and nutrition industries to benefit not only from from a business and growth perspective, but also from playing a leading role in helping to alleviate some of these pressure points.
That’s why at FoodNavigator-Asia and NutraIngredients-Asia we organise the annual Healthy Ageing APAC Summit.
Returning for its third edition in Singapore from July 9-11, and backed by Food Industry Asia as our Headline Trade Association Partner, the event brings together brands, suppliers, academics, policymakers and market experts to assess how the food and nutrition industry can meet the needs of the older consumers of today, and more crucially tomorrow.
And that last point is key, because while there will no doubt be increased demand for products tailored to senior citizens, greater life expectancy is also leading informed consumers to make healthier choices at all ages.
Put simply, they want to take action today that will help them live not only longer, but also in better health.
That’s why it is important to look at topics such as reformulation and fortification across the board, protein and key vitamin / mineral intake at all life stages, functional food innovation and NPD, and even infant and childhood nutrition, because there is now a wealth of scientific evidence to show that what we consume in our earliest years can have a tangible impact on health outcomes in older age. In short, healthy ageing is a lifelong endeavor.
Our summit tackles all of these issues, as well as assessing the NPD, packaging, marketing and nutritional requirements that can meet the needs of consumers once they hit their senior years.
Major brands such as Blackmores, Brands Suntory, Nippn, Herbalife, Cerecin and Nestle will be sharing their expertise, alongside esteemed academics from NUS, FOSTAT and the Indian Institute of Integrated Medicine. We’ll also be hearing from economic experts at Mercer.
In addition to looking at the business opportunities, however, it is also important that the global food and nutrition industry overcomes some common misconceptions.
It can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that only the likes of Japan (37% of the population over 60 by 2030), Korea (31%) and Singapore (25%) are currently affected by the demographic and societal impact of ageing.
However, Thailand is already classed as an ageing society, and in all likelihood Malaysia will join them by 2030.
Furthermore, China is the fourth most rapidly ageing population in the region, and Sri Lanka is fifth, while even in Vietnam 18% of the population will be over 60 by 2030. In Cambodia and the Philippines the proportion will top 10% for the first time by the end of this decade.
We have already seen considerable efforts from the food and nutrition industry to tap into the healthy ageing trend, but there is still so much more to do, from creating products for seniors that are tasty and attractive - in addition to being nutritionally sound - to providing healthier choices and education for consumers of all ages.
Furthermore, we know that the most informed consumers are already actively looking for functional food and high value nutrition products that will help maintain cognitive, immunity, skin, joint, bone and muscle function both today and tomorrow.
We hope our summit will shine the spotlight on the vast array of opportunities that exist. We also hope to see you there.
Gary Scattergood is Regional Head, Asia-Pacific, William Reed, Global Brands and Editor-in-Chief of FoodNavigator-Asia, NutraIngredients-Asia and Cosmetics Design-Asia. For more information on the Healthy Ageing APAC Summit, head to