Nestlé wants to take advantage of the problem of the world’s aging population

There is no escaping demographic change. A large part of the world’s population will reach old age in the coming decades, and the number of people aged 60 and over will double between 2020 and 2050.

As alarming as population aging may be for economic growth and public finances, it presents an opportunity for Swiss food and nutrition conglomerate Nestlé.

The company, whose founder invented the first form of infant formula, now prioritizes products for seniors.

“The 50+ age group in most countries around the world is going to increase significantly over the next 10 to 20 years,” Nestlé CEO Mark Schneider told the press conference. Financial times. “With that, and with the specific nutritional needs of that age group, there is an opportunity for us.”

Advances in science and technology, along with economic development that lifts billions of people out of poverty, are leading to increased life expectancy in most of the world. At the same time, many developed countries are suffering staggeringly low birth rates: births in Italy have declined for 15 consecutive years, while Finland’s aging population has been growing rapidly.

To keep up with these parallel trends, Nestlé’s Health Sciences division wants to offer more supplements that address the different consumption patterns of older people, including the need to age healthily, for example by maintaining their weight or reducing blood sugar levels.

Keep up to date with the population

Changing demographic trends have already begun to affect Nestlé’s business. For example, the company closed one of its baby formula plants in China last year, citing falling birth rates as hurting demand for infant nutrition products.

Baby foods are still big business for Nestlé (the company has a long and complex history in this segment, which accounted for about 15% of its profits in 2023), but these occurrences are likely to become more common as The number of babies has decreased in recent years. more and more countries.

However, Schneider said the company’s growing interest in seniors does not come at the expense of its baby food division.

“We are not going to abandon what we started, which is child nutrition,” he said.

“But we do see that in most economies around the world, the greatest demographic opportunity is among the middle-aged and older people.”

Nestlé has been affected by emerging trends beyond demographics, such as the meteoric rise of weight-loss drugs. To help you ride the tide, Nestlé recently launched a new line of packaged foods called Vital Pursuit, which it says can meet the needs of those taking appetite-suppressing medications through portion control and better nutritional balance. .

It’s about having to adapt to a suddenly different reality, which can be a dangerous time for established businesses. On the other hand, a gradual aging of the population (although alarming to economists) at least gives companies like Nestlé enough advance warning. No matter what happens in the next few years, you can be pretty sure that the world is not getting any younger.

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