General Mills has joined Mayo Clinic's Healthy Aging and Independent Living consortium.
General Mills will help Mayo explore and support new ways to serve the growing senior population.
"Because we're both Minnesota companies we have high trust, mutual trust with Mayo, and we think there's a lot of potential to work together," said Susan Crockett, who heads the Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition at General Mills.
She said one of the pilot projects the company will work on with Mayo involves finding ways to deliver meals to seniors with specific medical needs.
"We're interested in seeing how our home-delivered meals are accepted," Crockett said. "We're interested in seeing what of the foods, that we're planning to deliver, they like or leave behind as waste. We're interested in seeing how it works when they have to take those meals and have to heat them up in a microwave."
Mayo's lab was established in September as a "living lab" located inside the Charter House, a continuing care retirement community in Rochester.
Researchers will use the lab to test strategies for extending the number of years that seniors live healthy, independent lives.
U.S. Census data show that two-thirds of Minnesota counties have populations older than the national average. And demographic estimates indicate the number of Minnesotans age 65 and older will increase by 40 percent in the next 10 years.
"It is clear that the aging population is a key opportunity, certainly a reality, for both health care and the food industry," Crockett said. "Mayo and General Mills have very different capabilities ... so we can learn from each other and find ways to collaborate in a very, very important space."
Best Buy, the consortium's first member, is exploring the growing potential for wireless-enabled health related devices. South Dakota-based Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society is also a consortium member.