The Seniori-Sapuska project (‘Foods for Seniors’) was launched recently by research body, VTT Technical Research Centre (VTT).
It is being carried out in collaboration with ten other companies from the food and packaging industries as well as catering services and market research.
Although the project is in its very early stages, it hopes to create food packaging that is “easy-to-open” and where product information can be easily read by the senior market.
Gap in the market
Speaking to FoodProductionDaily.com, senior scientist at VTT, Dr Raija-Liisa Heiniö, explained that the project was initially set up because in Finland there “did not seem” to be food packaging that was designed for easy opening by elderly consumers.
Although no specific formats have been revealed just yet, Heiniö said that the project is using a method called “participatory design” to create the packaging.
By this she means that one of the project's participants is currently interviewing senior consumers using a “story-telling method”, in order to involve them in the development of the project.
She added that the institute also plans on recruiting and training a panel made up of senior consumers to take part in sensory assessments.
However despite identifying this gap in the market, Heiniö said that elderly consumers do not want to be singled out based on their age and so the “user-friendly packages will be valid for all other consumers too.”
“Expected to be a success”
At present the research body has “mainly collected background information” in order to determine the criteria for “senior-friendly” packaging. However, Heiniö told this publication that once designed the packaging is “expected to be a success” due to the growing elderly population in Finland.
In addition, VTT has highlighted potential in expanding the project beyond Finland and boosting exports, as many of the project’s participating companies are overseas food traders.
Furthermore, Heiniö added that the company was screening the situation in “neighbouring markets” and also plans on taking part in a research exchange programme with the Netherlands.