What can European food manufacturers learn from the healthy ageing qualities of the Japanese diet?

These facts very clearly present massive opportunities for the food industry to capitalise on the specific needs of what is a rapidly expanding, and often affluent, consumer group keen to explore foods associated with slower cognitive decline.

Are we making the most of these opportunities? According to a recent report from Barclays, the food industry should do more to meet the nutritional needs of the ageing population. It complains the number of new products launched that cater to ‘silver surfers’ and ‘baby boomers’ pales in comparison to NDP targeting trendy millennials or Generation Zers. “The narrative on ageing needs to evolve. Living longer, healthier lives will impact people of all ages and there are many opportunities for the nutrition industry in particular to adapt these offerings,”​ said Barclay’s head of sustainable and thematic investing, Hiral Patel.

The traditional Mediterranean diet — typically high in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, beans, cereals, grains, fish, and unsaturated fats such as olive oil, and which usually includes a low intake of meat and dairy foods — is known to be one of the healthiest dietary patterns in the world due to its relation with a low morbidity and mortality for some chronic diseases and therefore longevity and quality of life.

The traditional Japanese diet, too, is thought to play a significant role in the nation’s high life expectancy. Japan’s number one position in terms of longevity has only just been taken away by Singapore, according to the latest WHO data.