Women aged 65 or over are 94% more likely than the average Briton to consume organic foods, according to the findings of the Taylor Nelson Sofres continuous survey, Family Food Panel, published 3 November.

Similarly, the same group are 65% more likely to choose to eat healthy foods and 32% more likely than the average Briton to avoid genetically modified foods. However, they are 39% less likely to "enjoy foreign foods" and 18% less likely to think that "less preparation is a good thing."

"Taste" is the key factor in food choice for men aged 65+, which is 38% greater than the national average for men and women. At the same time, a further 33% more men (aged 65 and over) "prefer to eat natural wholefoods,", than the average population. On the other hand, 33% less men in this age group "enjoy cooking" in comparison to the rest of the nation.

Whether or not food is "healthy" is a consideration for 14.6% of the 65+ age group - this is over 30% higher than for the average Briton. "Habit" and "tradition" are rated by 14.4% of those aged 65 and over as important - almost 30% higher than the national average. However, only 1.9% of those aged 65+ look for foods that are "filling," 33% less than the rest of the population.

Other key findings include:
  • The 65+ age group consume 42.2% of the UK marmalade market and 41.9% of the UK tinned fruit market, only 12.1% of the ready meals/savoury dishes sector, and less than 10% of the confectionery market.

  • This group also accounts for more than a third (34.8%) of all offal products, 31.1% of the pork pie market and 30.4% of the soup market.

  • Over 65s account for only 6.1% of the pizza market and less than 10% of consumption of Chinese and pasta dishes.

  • British males aged 65 and over drink almost twice as much alcohol as their female counterparts - alcohol makes up 15% of the liquid intake of men aged 65+, compared to only 8% of women of the same age.

  • More than half (51%) of the non-alcoholic liquid intake of those aged 65 and over is tea, compared to just 16% of the 11-16 age group and 27% of the 17-24 age group.
David Armes, Business Development Director, TNS Family Food Panel (FFP), comments: "The findings demonstrate the importance of the 65+ age group to today's consumer society. In particular, it is interesting to note that women aged 65 and over are driving demand for products that are relatively new on the market and more frequently associated with a younger age group. Attitudes held by the over 65s are split sharply by gender - women are concerned primarily with health and nutrition, while men are persuaded by taste, tradition and some specific health concerns. Such high levels of awareness of organic products, for example, may suggest that the 'grey market' is less conservative than has previously been supposed."

The research was undertaken using the TNS Family Food Panel service. The sample comprises 11,000 individuals in 4,200 households. The panel reports on all food and drink consumed via self completion diaries, for a two weekly period every six months. The sample is staggered so that every day of the year is covered.