Data suggests over-65s could be a golden ticket for produce
The over-65s are still the UK's most valuable produce consumer group by far

Data suggests over-65s could be a golden ticket for produce

Gill McShane
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The UK population is growing and ageing. By 2033 some 10 million people are expected to live in Britain, of which 6.5m will be aged 65 and over. Much focus has been placed on the impact this will have on the UK’s key services and resources, with health, pensions and local services receiving the most attention. But what effect is it having on whole head fresh produce sales? Kantar Worldpanel provides Produce Business UK readers with an exclusive analysis of the market

  • Over-65s’ share of the produce market is static in last 5 years at 31%
  • Still the most valuable group by far – spending nearly £1 in every £3
  • Largest produce consumer in eating occasions and vs average food consumption

On researching the data, Kantar’s consumer insight director Chris Cowan says the population change has actually had very little impact on the whole head produce market to date. However, as he points out, there are lucrative opportunities for those buyers who respond effectively to the growing number of over-65 consumers.

“The over-65 shopper is the most valuable group among the different age profiles,” he explains, referring to slides 4 and 5 illustrated in this slideshow. “They’re more engaged with produce, they shop more often, spend more and actually eat it considerably more than the average household.”

  • Spend on produce is £426.71 per year – 15% more than average shopper
  • 126 produce trips made a year – 28% more than average shopper
  • 2kg baskets bought each trip – 13% less than average shopper

In June, a survey from business intelligence research consultancy Future Thinking pinpointed age as the most important factor in determining UK consumers’ grocery shopping and eating habits, finding that Brits over 55 are still buying and eating more produce than younger consumers.

Despite being more engaged with produce, Cowan says their tastes remain very traditional (as slides 7 and 8 demonstrate). Nonetheless, the key point for produce buyers to note is that, as people age Cowan says they take certain behaviours and tastes with them.

  • Cooking apples, marrow, physalis and sprouts among most popular
  • Root veg, stonefruit, dates, figs and pears are favourites too
  • But exotics like chillies, okra and certain herbs don’t appeal

“The over-65 shopper of today is not what the over-65 shopper of 20 years time will be,” he suggests. “However, there are big opportunities to engage these shoppers in some of the markets they don’t currently shop heavily, bringing incremental category volume.”

In the short term, Cowan says the produce industry must consider the fact that these shoppers can sit in one of two distinct ‘camps’ – those that have a small store repertoire, and those who like to shop around. In any case, the response strategies and actions will need to vary by category and retailer.

  • Premium retailers & high street c-stores are key channels
  • Core over-65 group is less likely to shop around
  • But a more promiscuous group exists too

What’s certain from Kantar Worldpanel’s work with a number of clients looking at this situation is that those retailers who are proactively developing strategies based on appealing to the ‘golden’ or ‘grey pound’ market of the over-65s are seeing multi-million pound opportunities on the horizon.

Greenlight – a UK-based digital marketing agency – also recently claimed that the over-55s spend £14 billion online but remain “largely ignored”, suggesting there are untapped sales opportunities for e-retailers too.

As such, one thing Cowan says the UK market can expect to see in the next five years is a greater emphasis on products with health benefits associated with age.

View the slideshow analysis from Kantar Worldpanel here.

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