As part of four key trends set to impact the Southeast Asia region, Mintel forecasts that the ‘Get Healthy’ trend is a key area brands can further tap into to see commercial success. Here, Mintel’s Jane Barnett explains why the coming year is key for brands in the region to showcase their expertise in this area.

The area of functional foods has seen significant growth within the Asia-Pacific region in recent years. If brands are in any doubt as to how much consumers in the region are buying into this – lets look at the facts. Mintel’s Global New Products Database (GNPD) reveals that of all food launches in the APAC region, 8% were functional food launches in the last five years. Compare this with the 6% seen globally and the opportunity is clear.

Looking at the Southeast Asia region in particular, there has been a 17% increase of food and drink launches with a functional claim in Southeast Asia between 2011 and September 2014 – clearly supporting the notion that more consumers are focusing on health and wellness.

So where is this growth coming from? The key sub-categories of food and drink launches in Southeast Asia that have used functional claims over the last two years are growing-up milks (8%), tea (7%), and flavoured milks (5%), followed by baby formula and milk. The baby formula and growing-up milks reflect manufacturers’ focus on the young population, especially in the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam. These products are also in the news (and on the rise) in China and Korea. Growing-up milks and baby formula are positioned as assisting the physical and cognitive development of children.

In line with government initiatives in Vietnam and to meet consumer demand for products that are fortified with nutrients, enhance children’s resistance, and help children’s development, baby food launches in Vietnam focus on promoting functional claims. Functional was the top claim category for baby food launches in Vietnam, with 76% of products launched between January 2010 and September 2013 featuring a claim from the category. In Malaysia, nearly three in 10 rice products launched in 2013 were high in fibre. Many of these products made claims relating to cardiovascular and digestive health and diabetes. Globally, India has seen the highest number of food launches (18%) with cardiovascular claims in the last two years. Vietnam and Thailand are the other two Asian nations that feature among the top 10 countries with cardiovascular food launches.

In 2015 and beyond, we are bound to see much more innovation within functional food and drink in the Southeast Asia region. As health awareness grows within Southeast Asia, consumer interest and need for these types of products will only increase further. Local ingredients and localised positioning of functional products will also aid further growth of these types of products within the region.

Brands that can tap into this growing consumer awareness – and desire to further change both their dietary and buying behaviours in the coming years – stand to benefit.

For more on how brands can tap into Mintel’s Get Healthy trend in Southeast Asia – and the three other areas for opportunity in the regions, click here to download Mintel’s free report on 2015 Consumer Trends for Southeast Asia.

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