Japanese sales of soft diets reached value of around 9.3B yen in 2011, up more than four-fold from 2004, reflecting expectation that demand will grow further in line with increase in home nursing, industry body says

TOKYO , October 14, 2012 () – Sales of soft diets targeting elderly consumers are expanding, with their shipment value reaching around 9.3 billion yen in 2011, up more than four times from 2004 when the statistics started, an industry body said Saturday.

The rise reflects how many companies are entering the market in the expectation that demand will grow further in line with the increase in home nursing, according to the Japan Care Food Conference, which consists of 47 firms.

"The shipment value will exceed 10 billion yen this year," a spokesman said.

Based on a projection that the number of persons who receive care and medical services at home will rise 1.4-fold to 4.63 million in fiscal 2025, the government has decided to expand home-based care services, stirring expectations that diets for the recipients will become one of the major growth fields for the food industry.

While soft diets, including liquid meals, were shipped mainly to hospitals and care facilities for the elderly, food makers as well as those involved in seafood processing and pharmaceuticals have developed meals that look like ordinary dishes but can be "chewed" by mashing them with the tongue and gums.

"There were 802 such meals in 2011, up from 155 in 2004," the official at the conference said.

(c) 2012 Kyodo News International, Inc.

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