Personalized Foods with a New Twist

The Lempert Report
August 17, 2017

A new category has been created - "Engay" foods, specialized for elderly people.

We talk a lot about Millennials’ need for special foods, foods designed just for them, just for each individual with customized tastes, colors, packaging and nutrients. But there is another side to customization and it’s at the opposite end of the age spectrum. And for many it could mean the difference between life and death. 

NPR reports that according to Japan's Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, Japan has the world's highest number of people age 65 and older; and a growing number of elderly people there are dying in accidental choking deaths. 

The two leading causes? Mochi — the sticky rice cake that has actually been a growing trend here in the US — and apples.   

Japan's food industry to the rescue. A new category has been created - "Engay" foods, specialized for elderly people. 

These are pureed, re-shaped foods that include just about any food. Here’s how it is described. After pureeing an original food product — for example, grilled salmon — the puree is combined with a gelling agent. Then it's molded into the original appearance of the food — in the case of salmon, with fake grill marks and everything. Think about baby foods that are then shaped and formed to look more appetizing. 

Today these products are just available in hospitals and nursing homes but with one of the world’s fast-aging population, it's considered the food of Japan's future. And possibly wind up on our US supermarket shelves.