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Aging US consumers demand functional dairy products

18 June 2014

Consumers aged 55 and above make up over a fifth of dairy consumption in the US, and this number is set to increase. Manufacturers should develop functional dairy products to meet the needs of aging population, whose consumption alone was worth almost  8.7 billion US$ in 2013, Canadean says.  

Older consumers want functional dairy products

Older US consumers are looking for dairy products with their nutritional benefits. The elderly want products with calcium to help maximise healthy bone strength, as well as riboflavin to maintain good nerve function and limit the risk of cancer, dementia, and heart disease. According to Catherine O’Connor, senior analyst at Canadean: “Bone health is a fundamental need here.  Products that are enriched with extra calcium to help with tooth-retention and prevent from osteoporosis will prove particularly popular. There will also be increasing demand for products containing omega 3 and DHA to maintain brain health.”

Products should be positioned sensitively

Marketers are advised to be sensitive in how they position products to the older population. Dairy food should carry both a preventative and therapeutic message to target healthy consumers and meet the needs of those already suffering from issues such as bone decay. “Manufacturers should communicate the health benefits of products by centring campaigns around keeping active and health maintenance, rather than focusing on older consumers’ vulnerabilities”, adds O’Connor.

Easy-to-open packaging is key

Manufacturers should consider the packaging requirements of older consumers, whose appetites should be met with smaller packs. As a result, the elderly will require packaging that is lightweight and easy-to-open, particularly those with declining wrist strength or a decreased ability to carry heavier items. For example, packaging brand Shinsen produced caps with “seal and gas flushing technology” that is utilised to maximise dairy products’ shelf life. According to O’Connor: “Packaging manufacturers should innovate with seals that increase shelf life in order to require fewer shopping trips for those who find getting about difficult.”

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Editor’s notes

About this report

These findings are based on the new Canadean report: ‘Understanding consumer trends and drivers of behaviour in the US dairy market.’

This report is based on Canadean’s consumer data, developed from consumption surveys and consumer group tracking, which quantifies the influence of 20 consumption motivations in consumer markets. 


Lactaid Milk by McNeil Nutritionals is fortified with extra calcium to ensure the maintenance of healthy bones. The product offers a fat- and lactose-free formulation in order to cater to consumers’ medical needs and dietary choices.

For further information

Please get in contact if you have any questions to this or other Canadean reports. Contact the Canadean press office on +44 (0) 20 3220 0818 or email

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