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Healthy ageing: A ‘dynamic landscape’ for wellness brands  

Article-Healthy ageing: A ‘dynamic landscape’ for wellness brands  

© AdobeStock/Kay Abrahams/ Healthy ageing: A ‘dynamic landscape’ for wellness brands
From digestive health to menopause solutions, the healthy ageing market is ripe for innovation.

The ageing global population is redefining the category, with a shift in thinking towards healthspan and away from lifespan, as discussed during last week’s Vitafoods Insights webinar on healthy ageing.

“The world population is ageing and there is an increase in life expectancy, yet healthy life expectancy hasn't kept pace,” said Natalia Franca-Rocha, senior content producer at Vitafoods. “The ageing population poses challenges, including muscle and mobility issues; protein intake is critical, but there are barriers to increased consumption.”

But she pointed to the increased market opportunities offered by the category’s “dynamic landscape”.

“For me, what stands out in the healthy ageing market is the holistic approach that consumers are taking toward their wellbeing,” she said. “[…T]his presents a dynamic landscape for the nutraceutical industry to innovate and provide products that cater to the multifaceted needs and aspirations of ageing individuals.”

Gen X an untapped opportunity for healthy ageing products

This shift in mindset is not just relevant for older populations – it's trickling down to younger generations, too.

Mintel recently released its annual global food and drink trend report, and No. 2 on the list for 2024 was “Age Reframed”. It floated the idea of Gen X – the so-called “forgotten” generation, made up of people born between 1965 and 1980 – as presenting an untapped opportunity for wellness brands that may struggle to resonate with Boomers. 

Meanwhile, age-related health issues like menopause are now much less stigmatised, partly thanks to this generation. By 2030, it is estimated that the number of people who are menopausal and postmenopausal will number 1.2 billion – 15% of the global population.

© AdobeStock/Monkey Business A ‘dynamic landscape’ for wellness brands

This is playing out in the proliferation of products on the market targeting specific somatic symptoms relating to menopause, using a range of ingredients to do so, from the established – such as B vitamins – to adaptogens and nootropics.

Less stigma around seeking solutions for menopause

The companies behind such products often use very conscious branding: the overall feeling is that there is less shame around seeking solutions for these kinds of conditions has been driving innovation in the category in a big way. 

One example is the US startup MenoWell, which makes plant-based functional energy and protein bars with ingredients that target symptoms associated with menopause. These include maca root to help balance hormones; MCT oils to improve metabolism and reduce brain fog; and pea protein to help maintain lean muscle mass, especially after a decline in oestrogen. 

Gerobiotics: A new frontier for digestive health?

The gut microbiome has been linked to a range of body systems and health states – and now, it appears the bacteria in the gut may play a key role in how the body responds to the external factors linked to ageing. Probiotics and prebiotics have entered the mainstream, and present an accessible and cost-effective way to address age-related changes in the gut microbiome.

Another category covered during the webinar was “gerobiotics”. Coined by researchers from the National Yang-Ming University of Taipei in Taiwan, this relatively new term describes probiotic strains and their derived postbiotics and para-probiotics that can slow down or reduce the physiological ageing process. 

“Use of gerobiotics could be a promising intervention strategy to improve healthspan and longevity of humans in the future,” the researchers wrote in Biosci Microbiota Food Health.