The graying of America: Green for fresh produce? - The Packer

The graying of America: Green for fresh produce?

06/29/2011 06:07:00 AM
Tom Karst

Suburbs are aging more rapidly than cities with higher growth rates for their age-45-and-above populations and larger shares of seniors. People age 45 and older represent 40 percent of suburban residents, compared to 35 percent of city residents.

Metropolitan suburbs differ sharply in the degree to which they are attracting young adults and children. The suburbs of 34 metropolitan areas, mostly in the Northeast and Midwest, registered declines in their child and under-45 populations in the 2000s, leaving high concentrations of “advanced middle aged” and older residents. An even larger number of cities experienced losses in these younger populations.


More from the report:

 In some ways, current senior growth is just the lull before the storm. The next wave of senior growth will literally explode as the leading edge of baby boomers, who increased the age 55–64 population by 50 percent last decade, begin turning age 65 this decade. Because aging in place is the primary component of senior growth, we can assume that those areas where age 55-64 “pre-senior” growth was greatest in 2000–2010, will likely show large senior growth in the decade ahead.

Not unexpectedly, Sun Belt areas are among the fastest gainers of pre-seniors. Led by Austin’s pre-senior growth rate of 110 percent, metro areas in Texas, the Southeast, and the West exhibit the fastest pre-senior growth. Many of these areas are also college towns, including Austin, Raleigh, Provo, Colorado Springs, and Madison. These and other gainers further down the list such as Atlanta, Charlotte, Phoenix, and Dallas possess knowledge-based and diversified economies that attracted many baby-boom migrants in the past few decades whoare now poised to age in place.


Although we who are getting older like to say 50 is the new 30, 60 is the new 40, etc., the hard numbers are what they are. What does it mean for produce marketers? Fruits and vegetables that have function or perceived utility to preserve our health (blueberries!) will do well in coming years, no doubt.

A side note: one produce operator I recently talked to said that blueberries would be the number one produce item in the retail produce department if the fruit was available year-round.

Another positive: generally speaking, don't seniors eat more fruits and vegetables than their younger cohorts? Yet an older population may shun certain food (sprouts?)  if they feel their health could be compromised by food safety risks.

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