Rapid urbanisation, a growing female workforce, and the development of a modern retail infrastructure are all stimulating the growth of convenience foods in Indonesia, as fewer consumers have the time to balance busy working lifestyles with scratch cooking. The need for convenience can be identified in the shift from consumers’ reliance on traditional neighbourhood markets to modern convenience stores and hypermarkets, which offer a much wider range of prepared foods. With this, Indonesia offers prospects for the cooking sauce market.

Cooking sauce consumption remains niche, but value sales grow

According to data from Mintel Market Sizes, per capita consumption of cooking sauces in Indonesia is among the lowest in Asia, with neighbouring Thailand posting a consumption rate that is more than three times higher. Cooking sauce sales continue to be limited by a historic preference for scratch cooking among Indonesian consumers and concerns about the healthiness of prepared food. What’s more, consumers are also after the freshness and original taste that real ingredients offer. Indeed, Mintel research reveals that over three in 10 metro Indonesians plan to eat less processed food in 2017.

Recent value growth recorded in the market does, however, suggest that underlying social factors are beginning to mitigate these concerns. Mintel data estimates that value sales of cooking sauces grew by nearly 10% in Indonesia in 2016, and are expected to see double-digit growth by 2020—well ahead of volume growth. Some of this development can be attributed to the volatile food inflation that has long been a feature of the country, but this problem has eased in the last few years.

There is clearly greater willingness among Indonesians to invest in value-added cooking sauces as they become increasingly sophisticated in their spending habits. More importantly, there have been advertisements for cooking sauces that highlight the naturalness of the product. Along with detailed cooking recipes and directions, cooking sauce manufacturers have started to include real ingredients into the mix and are featuring messages like ‘real meat’ or ‘real onions’ on pack—effectively shifting consumers’ perceptions to be more positive.

All that said, manufacturers will need to work hard to change negative perceptions about prepared foods in the country, with ‘speed-scratch’ options, such as pastes and recipe bases, likely to be popular as they provide a middle ground between traditional and modern habits.

International restaurant scene booms in a market where familiarity dominates

Indonesia has a rich and varied cuisine, with a variety of local dishes that cooking sauce brands can help busy consumers replicate. The continued popularity of traditional dishes across Indonesia has encouraged most manufacturers to focus on local flavours in the category.

However, recent cooking sauce innovation trends in Indonesia are starting to see a shift in focus from traditional flavours to more exotic locales, perhaps fuelled by the increasing globalisation of society. Younger generations, in particular, have grown up with greater exposure to international lifestyles through the internet, television, and tourism, and are expressing this through their purchases. This is most apparent in the foodservice sector where international food options have become popular in Indonesia’s major urban areas. The growth of a global restaurant scene in Indonesia suggests that more exotic formulations are likely to engage Indonesian consumers going forward.

In fact, manufacturers are upping their investments in new recipes and innovations with international formulations in Indonesia. Such products are only likely to see their profile rise further in the country in the coming years as young, urban Indonesians become even more outward looking.

International sauces in Indonesia

David Turner, Vice President of Research, APAC, joined Mintel in 2012. During a 20-year career in the food and drink industry, he has gained commercial experience in CPG and foodservice markets, leading the brand and private label marketing activity for major dairy, foodservice and spirits brands.

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