Food for thought: The nutritional landscape of Southeast Asia

September 20, 2016
3 min read

Obesity is a growing epidemic worldwide and Southeast Asia is no exception. Diets are evolving and consumers are turning to the latest food trends, but how does the nutritional landscape vary across the region? Here we take a look at what is influencing the diets of consumers across Southeast Asia.


tropicana slimalmond breezeyosoyIndonesia

Indonesia has recently been put under the spotlight for the prevalence of diabetes among the country’s population. Personal health is a key issue in Indonesia, with as many as two thirds of consumers there definitely hoping to exercise more in 2016 and the same amount planning to have a healthier diet in 2016.

Indonesians are turning away from the traditional staple of rice, which is often linked to diabetes and brown rice is now touted as a healthier alternative. As a result, rice manufacturers are launching healthier brown rice featuring organic, low-GI and low sugar claims. For example, Tropicana Slim Organic Brown Rice is high in fibre and features a low glycemic index that controls blood sugar levels.

Free-from is booming in Indonesia, with the number of food and drink products launched with a gluten-free claim growing over 500% between 2013 and August 2016. Additionally, over three in five consumers are avoiding dairy because they believe it is healthier and brands are responding with dairy alternatives.

Blue Diamond Almonds All Natural Unsweetened Almond Milk is 98% fat free, contains no cholesterol and is dairy free. Yosoy Oat Drink & Rice Drink are 100% vegetable drinks, providing an all-natural alternative to milk.


Attaining healthy eating habits can be tough in a foodie’s nirvana like Singapore, but the Health Promotion Board (HPB) has found a solution to make it easier. To combat rising obesity rates and increasingly sedentary lifestyles, the agency has implemented a range of behavioural intervention programmes aimed at promoting healthy eating and increasing physical activity.HSC

The Healthier Choice Symbol (HCS) was introduced as a grocery purchase guide to help consumers make informed food choices and to incorporate healthier options into their diets. Using the Healthier Choice Symbol, manufacturers and retailers can build trust and loyalty with consumers if they make an effort to serve them better by educating Singaporean consumers on health issues, but also offering them solutions towards healthier lifestyle choices.


Thai consumers are looking for ‘better-for-you’, convenient and affordable indulgent foods. Indeed, as many as two thirds of Thai consumers hope to achieve a healthier diet in 2016. To meet these demands, brands and manufacturers can create different varieties of food and foodservice options to offer essential nutrients and added value.

DJ POOMApart from the shift in focus to highlight the ‘good’ that a dish can offer, ‘clean eating’ or a focus on food that is minimally processed or has no artificial ingredients is gaining traction. Fresh ingredients can act as a shortcut to communicate a less processed and natural proposition, to create associations with ‘better-for-you’.

An example of this diet is DJ Poom Menus. Launched by a radio DJ who once weighed nearly 100 kilograms, these ‘clean eating’ menus that can help control your weight, taste good and can be enjoyed every day. The food is made fresh with high quality ingredients, contain no oils, no preservatives and no MSG.

Join Mintel at Fi Asia 2016 in Jakarta on the 21st to the 23rd September at stand Y11 (Exhibition Hall D1). Spend time with a Mintel Food & Drink expert and explore the key trends set to impact Asia’s food and drink market throughout 2017.

Jane Barnett
Jane Barnett

Jane Barnett is Head of Insights for South APAC at Mintel. She is responsible for the delivery of key insights to clients in both a servicing and consultative manner.

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