The over 65s spent nearly 43 billion euros on food in 2021, all circuits combined, i.e. nearly 30% of the food consumption of the French when they weigh less than 21% of the population. In supermarkets (GSA), they already represent nearly one in two purchases. And the consumption of these seniors will grow at the rate of 3.5% per year to reach 49 billion euros by 2025 (nearly a third of the market in value), predict the experts at Xerfi Precepta. And with the foodservice market (meal delivery, catering in healthcare establishments, etc.), it will exceed 52 billion euros. An above-average disposable income, favorable consumption choices for food and more meals eaten at home explain this overconsumption by seniors. The aging of the population is disrupting the entire food industry: manufacturers, distributors and foodservice specialists. If in healthcare establishments, this phenomenon is well known to actors in collective catering and clinical nutrition, the potential of silver food seems under-exploited by major brands and distributors. And the strategies of conquest remain in their infancy. The former are testing new packaging, resizing their products or embarking on exports to find new outlets, while the latter are betting more on services (free delivery or slow checkouts)
Of the 43 billion euros spent in 2021 by the over 65s, 11 billion relate to products highly exposed to demand from seniors. Xerfi-Precepta experts have distinguished three main product profiles. Products with a dominant life cycle effect are characterized by overconsumption of certain age groups for reasons specific to their age, not to a generation. This is for example the case of seafood products, overconsumed by seniors both for reasons of purchasing power and nutritional needs (Omega 3). This is also the case with fresh fruit. All other things being equal, the rise of the senior population has a positive effect on its products.
Products with a dominant generation effect are characterized by strong overconsumption of the highest age groups, attributable to tastes and eating habits linked to a generation. These generational products unsurprisingly correspond to sectors in difficulty, including the wine sector, which has to deal with a structural drop in consumption on the domestic market, but also the rabbit and sheep sectors. For these manufacturers, it is becoming urgent to activate the levers allowing a strategic repositioning of their offer. Finally, “specific” products are explicitly or implicitly intended for seniors through claims providing a real or supposed benefit for their health (high-protein yoghurts, with bifidus, or “balance” cereals).
The whole challenge for manufacturers is therefore to stem the decline in sales of generational products, to position themselves on life cycle products and to recruit senior consumers through a specific and differentiating but non-stigmatising offer.
A complex, heterogeneous, evolving and stigmatizing marketing target, the senior population is indeed difficult to understand. Some manufacturers have nonetheless ventured into it by offering specific products such as Lactalis with Jour après Jour, Capital Calcium and Lactel Primevère, or Sodiaal with its Candia Proteins and Candia Calcium Plus references. However, only format initiatives have survived, such as the Petit Appétit range by Bigard, among others.
In reality, it is above all on the services side that many levers remain to be activated to gain market share in this segment of the population. Distributors are stepping up their efforts to attract them, for example with the deployment of “slow checkouts” allowing dialogue with an employee (appeared at Carrefour, Auchan and Système U in 2020) or by offering delivery facilities (tariffs preferential for seniors, telephone assistance, even robots carrying shopping as in the United States).
Foodservice players on the move
The service shift in food is now a reality, which is manifested, among other things, by the proliferation of new delivery concepts (shopping, meals) and by the market share gains of out-of-home catering compared to the retail trade. In this new context, the baby boom generations represent a strategic target for food services. And all the conditions seem to be in place for the development of the senior food market in foodservice (considerable market potential, gradual spread of online purchasing practices, desire to keep the elderly at home).
The meal delivery market (with networks such as Les Menus Services, Saveurs et Vie or Appétits & Associés) should therefore move up a gear. With an increase of around 2% per year on average, this should reach 560 million euros by 2025 (around 520 million in 2021), according to experts from Xerfi Precepta. Collective catering companies (Sodexo, Elior or Compass) have rushed into the sector of health establishments where patients require the greatest attention from a nutritional point of view (malnutrition, dehydration, chewing and swallowing disorders). …). But if the prospects are real, the requirements are also numerous on this market.