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FT AUG 16 13 However, the company’s chief science and technology development officer Jim Kirkwood says if his company designed food products for aging consumers, nobody would buy them. “Nobody is aging in his or her own mind.” Research has told the company that middle-agers see five key areas of concern – physical vitality, mental acuity, legacy, financial security and community. “Food is only an enabler for the things that really matter to consumers. . . . if we can tie food to what matters, then we will be able to inject good things into their lives,” Kirkwood says. “If food developers do not relate their products to what is important for consumers, then consumers will not use those products. “For boomers in particular, compromise is not an option. Boomers do not want to give up anything. They want it all.” Product development—that is, translating aging consumers’ needs into products on the shelf—is a very complex, time-consuming process, Kirkwood admits. It involves everything from “culinary creation” (making a food that tastes good) to ensuring microbiological stability and regulatory compliance. Kirkwood said that everything that goes into product development can be broken down into four essential “elements”: • Form…channel, product form, and package configuration. For aging boomer consumers, ease of use and legibility of preparation instructions are additional considerations • Function…safety, benefit delivery and nutritional delivery. For older adults, health benefits must be validated with the targeted age • Appeal…taste, texture and appearance. If a product does not taste or look good, people will not eat it, regardless of its contents. For aging boomer consumers, additional considerations include vibrancy, potency and consistency. • Affordability…raw materials, manufacturability and distribution. "This is a huge concern, especially in today’s economic climate and especially for aging boomer consumers. Product developers must determine an acceptable price point for the target audience and then design development so that the product can meet that price point. Middle-agers are a complex group, but must be highly prized as a rapidly growing consumer group in their own right. They are important,” Denise Conroy says, “even if they are middle-aged old fogies!”

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