Food and Healthy Ageing

The RDA is working with the State Government’s Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA) to better understand the opportunities for the food industry associated with the senior 60+ years demographic and to understand the industry’s challenges in identifying and responding to these opportunities for this market segment.

With a growing ageing population healthy food and healthy ageing is a real and tangible opportunity to maintain and improve the health and wellness of individuals as they age. This means there are growth opportunities for many quality food manufacturers and value adders for not only local but also international markets. With South Australia as one of the leading states for an ageing population this provides a basis for market testing and development of new products to meet market needs.


To commence this project the RDA and PIRSA held the Food and Healthy Ageing Industry Workshop on Tuesday 30th January 2018 at SARDI at West Beach where consulting firm KPMG facilitated the day working with industry and research institution in understanding industry’s needs in better accessing this market. We were joined at the workshop by Guest Presenter Ngaire Hobbins Dietitian and authority on Nutrition, Ageing and Brain Health.


To view the Workshop Presentation including the extract from KPMG’s Shaping the Future of SA – Ageing Well Market Segmentation work Click Here

To view Ngaire Hobbins presentation Click here


The full Shaping the Future of SA – Ageing Well report can be accessed via the following link. The segmentation groups mentioned at the workshop are outlined in the Appendices.  Please note, these segmentations are not based specifically on people’s food preferences.  The work that PIRSA is doing is expected to build on these profiles to incorporate food preferences of 60+ demographic.


from left to right, Rowan Roberts (KPMG), Dr Pauline Mooney (PIRSA) and Ngarie Hobbins (Guest Presenter)


Food and Healthy Ageing Industry Workshop attendees


Key themes identified from the day were:

  • Perception of the 60+ demographic with most health messages intended for younger groups – negative 60 + stereotype, wide range of needs and not just a single group with most assumptions leaning towards the frailer aged, people don’t categorise themselves as old, stigma around terms and certain brands, need to change perceptions
  • Inconsistency with information sources – conflicting messages and inconsistency in expert advisory sources such as GPs
  • Weight-loss & Appetite - weight-loss and low sugar not necessarily the primary objective, appetite affected, compounded by dementia, illness and infection, enjoyment can decline but can be increased by nostalgic foods, importance of social eating
  • Nutritional Requirements & Ingredients - protein and colourful foods important, brain needs glucose, detrimental effects of emulsifiers and processing additives
  • General Awareness Around the 60+ Demographic – right balance between proteins, meals, snacks, additional nutrients and fortification, colour, gut health (fibrous and fermented foods). No single miracle solution or diet
  • Financial – cost and return, what the consumer can afford, financial feasibility 
  • Skills and Physical capabilities – ability of consumers for food preparation 
  • Marketing messages crucial for success – marketing strategies, greater understanding of market segments, market channels, product champions, consumer trends, consumer information sources
  • Portion size is a big factor but needs to be balanced against packaging waste reduction / waste streams, accessible and dexterity appropriate packaging 
  • Ingredient supply and formation, technical and regulatory – SMEs have limited resources for R&D, better communication and connections needed, competition and collaborations, information access for industry, access to R&D and funding
  • Education – nutritional requirements of ageing for industry and consumer, conflicting research and information, mixed messages, product labelling, Retail sector, as the route to market, needs equal education


Next steps over the coming months for the project are:

  • Focus Groups and Survey – Four focus groups of 60+ individuals are being held across Adelaide and surrounds in February to capture their views and experiences in relation to their food choices, why they eat what they do, what they have trouble with, key issues around food relating to health, what they want and what they know about healthy food choices. The information gathered from these focus groups combined with your input from the Food and Healthy Ageing Industry Workshop will be used to design a market survey to collect more quantitative data on this demographics’ food choices, needs and wants. The survey is anticipated to be distributed in March.
  • Market Segmentation Analysis – Data collected from the survey combined with the focus groups will then be used to identify market segments in the older population and some general information about older people’s food choices to provide industry with an improved foundation of knowledge on this cohort for better targeting of food products.
  • Report back to industry – This information will be reported back to industry at another workshop in late May / early June.
  • Product development assistance – if you would like to discuss your product development ideas for this market and better understand the support available, please contact Karen McNaughton, SAFIC Food Industry Case Manager, +61 459 860 189, Karen.McNaughton(at)


Please contact Johanna Milbank, Project Manager on 0423 134 725 or email johannam(at) for further information on this initiative.