Japan’s population is aging faster than ever, according to a forecast released by the government on March 27. In 30 years by now, more than a third (36 percent) of the population will be over 65, compared with 23 percent in 2010.
The predictions do not show a bright future for the Japanese baby-food makers, so what can they do to keep staying on the market? Kewpie Co., a leading baby-food maker, is preparing to sell special soft food for the elderly who cannot chew now as well as they used to.
Potato salad and Japanese-style stewed vegetables seem to be the best-received meals among the elderly, according to the company. Kewpie will start selling these products at stores and will also deliver them at home for the clients who find it difficult to reach the supermarkets. The company is expecting to obtain a revenue from this business of about Y300 million in three years, according to the international press.
About 50 special meals for seniors are included in the company’s “Tender Menu”. The food is divided into degrees of chewability. The softest food has the consistency of a gel to make the swallowing easier, and it is followed progressively by meals that are “no chew,” “crushable with tongue,” “crushable with gums,” and “easy to chew.”
Among other baby-food makers that changed their plans and jumped into this market are Morinaga Milk Industry Co., House Foods Corp., and Wakodo (owned by Asahi Group Holdings).
More than half of the seniors who are cared for at home are in danger of malnutrition, according to the Japanese health ministry.