More about Innovating Food for Seniors

Europe’s demographic future can be summarised in one colour: grey. We are becoming older with fewer births & longer life expectancy. Older people are at risk of being food insecure: limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways. The food industry needs to respond; however, it is considered a sector with low research intensity. PIFS delivers on the Europe 2020 innovation strategy “with an ageing population and strong competitive pressures from globalization, Europe’s future economic growth & jobs will increasingly have to come from innovation in products, services & business models. Pioneering Innovative Food for Seniors (PIFS) will provide an open source training programme for VET SMEs in the commercialisation of nutrient-enriched foods for the elderly.

Innovation is the lifeblood of the food industry and is essential to ensure profitability and survival. As adults age, their bodies become less efficient at absorbing & metabolising nutrients when they need to take in more nutrients. This is challenging. Reducing mobility & dexterity means that it is more troublesome to buy foods or prepare meals while certain foods become more difficult to consume due to changes in oral health. Many elderly people experience a loss in appetite & are at risk of nutritional deficiencies.

The development of successful innovative food products is challenging.

Each year, there are 80,000 new product launches around the world. 30% of new food brands fail within year 1 and the failure rate becomes more acute in years 2 & 3 to the extent that only one third of products survive. Why is the failure rate so high? Over 75% are copycats/ me-too products and less than 3% are classically innovative or breakthrough products.

Thus, or project objective is clear: to initiate a transformative, replicable model of learning that transfers critical innovation & entrepreneurial skills to help VET educators & SMEs respond to the increasing demand for new food products/services within the Silver Economy. We will equip VET educators & food SMEs with innovation skills necessary to capitalise on this niche market opportunity, to grow their businesses & empower senior consumers with wider food choices.

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