Thailand has one of the highest proportions of elderly people of any developing country in the Asia Pacific region. Indeed, a report by the World Bank found that there were more than 7 million Thais aged 65 and above in 2016, up from an estimated 3 million in 1995. What’s more, Thailand’s elderly population is expected to grow at a rapid pace in the coming years.

As discussed in Mintel Trend ‘Without a Care’, an ageing society creates the need for novel health and nutrition solutions. With age comes the inevitable vulnerability to various diseases; reflecting an opportunity for manufacturers to support and meet the specific health needs of Thailand’s ageing population.

Between May 2012 and April 2017, Europe and Asia Pacific were the most active regions in terms of global food, drink, and healthcare product launches targeted towards seniors, each accounting for 43% of these introductions according to Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD).

However, functional products for seniors are considered niche in the Thai market, even despite the increasing elderly population. To date, Mintel GNPD reveals that less than 1% of global products targeted towards seniors were launched in Thailand—and these launches were mostly found in the meal replacements and beverage categories. This suggests the potential for further development within the senior market in terms of product innovation.

Senior food, drink and healthcare products in Thailand

Addressing the specific health needs of Thai seniors is a must

Health and nutritional needs are significant in Thailand, particularly the improving of health and wellbeing of seniors who have multiple and multifaceted difficulties and needs. This is especially so among Thai seniors living in rural areas.

Chronic conditions affect the mobility of seniors, and subsequently, their physical and functional status, emotional balance, and finally, a decline in self-esteem due to their dependence on others. This highlights the potential for senior-target product innovation in Thailand. In developing products for the senior population, it is important to understand the demands and functional needs of the elderly.

Senior demands are not only based on age, they are also based on specific health needs. Manufacturers must shoulder the responsibility of developing products that meet these specialised needs which include smaller appetites, limited motor skills, taste and nutrition challenges, as well as difficulty in chewing and swallowing. On top of that, manufacturers need to keep in mind the need for fuss-free products and packaging.

Based in Singapore, Michelle is a Food Science and Nutrition Analyst at Mintel. She specialises in food science and ingredients, with a focus on nutrition. Prior to Mintel, most of her career was in the field of nutrition and dietetics concentrating on food service, clinical nutrition, health and wellness program management, nutrition research and marketing. She’s a licensed Nutritionist-Dietitian in the Philippines and an Accredited Nutritionist in Singapore.

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