Food & drink sector to benefit from Scotland’s ageing population

“We are experiencing significant change – and not necessarily negative. Twenty years ago, around one in three pensioners in Scotland lived in relative poverty but since then the poverty rate for pensioners has plummeted, with around 11% classed as living in poverty today,” – Sebastian Burnside, RBS

Scotland’s changing demographics could present untapped opportunities for food and drink businesses, according to a senior economist at RBS (Royal Bank of Scotland).
While its ageing population is detrimental to the economy as a whole, it could benefit this growing sector, says Sebastian Burnside, who gave a presentation at yesterday’s (September 15) Grampian Food Forum held at Dean’s of Huntly.
Burnside’s comments follow the recent publication of statistics by National Records of Scotland (NRS) which revealed that Scotland’s population is reaching a record high, with improvements in health care contributing to increased life expectancy rates.
He says an ageing population is set to bring both opportunities and challenges.
The Forum, which was jointly hosted by RBS and accountancy and business advisory firm Johnston Carmichael, saw Burnside highlight the changing factors affecting consumer spending in Scotland and the benefits for businesses as a result.
During his presentation, Burnside discussed the perception that Scotland’s ageing population would have a negative impact on the economy, and challenged this by outlining the opportunities for increased revenue these changes will bring, particularly for businesses operating within the hospitality and food and drink sectors.
He said: “Serious debate is taking place around the impact of an ageing population upon the UK food and drink sector and businesses as a whole.  The senior population are seen to typically have higher spending power, and more likely to spend their savings on eating out, or on more luxurious food and drinks brands.
“We are experiencing significant change – and not necessarily negative. Twenty years ago, around 1 in 3 pensioners in Scotland lived in relative poverty but since then the poverty rate for pensioners has plummeted, with around 11% classed as living in poverty today.
“Our research is also showing that the impact of an ageing population is creating geographical divisions. Comparisons between UK areas show that our cities aren’t exposed to the change in the same way. In fact, in some cities, such as Glasgow, the shift is hardly noticeable compared to the effect on other rural areas.”
Graeme Fraser, partner at Johnston Carmichael, said: “With 2015 marked as the Year of Food and Drink, the spotlight has been firmly positioned on Scotland’s businesses operating within this sector, and the opportunities for future growth.
 “The negativity surrounding the rise in life expectancy rates across the UK has been widely discussed, however there are clear opportunities for businesses to realise the potential this trend presents and tailor their offering to suit a mature market.
“Johnston Carmichael works with over 850 businesses in the food and drink and hospitality sectors, and teaming up with RBS to bring this event to the North East has allowed us to share our vast expertise of the industry with those looking for business or financial advice surrounding this relevant topic.”
Other speakers at yesterday’s event included William Dean and Scott Kelman of Dean’s and Campbell Laird, branding expert at threebrand.

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