Hotspots APAC: Trendspotting in Asia Pacific’s foodservice scene

December 4, 2017
4 min read

From using facial recognition technology as a payment method to creating a menu out of insects, 2017 has seen a line-up of interesting concepts trending in Asia Pacific’s foodservice scene.

In this edition of Hotspots APAC, we wrap up the year by highlighting some of the most exciting foodservice concepts making headlines across the region.

Insects in the Backyard, Thailand

Insects in the Backyard is one of the latest high-end restaurants to open in Bangkok, Thailand. With a menu that sees insects being used as the main ingredient, consumers are able to enjoy dishes including fresh cricket pasta with basil pesto and chorizo, as well as lobster grasshopper bisque seafood risotto. While eating insects is commonplace in Thailand, it is expected to take on a new importance in the coming years as the rising global population and climate change threaten food security. Insects represent a viable alternative in this new environment as they are a good source of protein and require significantly fewer resources to raise and cultivate than other livestock.


Delon Wang, Manager of Trends, Asia Pacific

Peanut Butter Bar, Australia

The Peanut Butter Bar is a new outlet in Sydney, Australia, that is devoted to serving peanut butter in all its forms, and claims all its treats are free from refined and artificial additives. Boasting a menu which includes ice cream, milk shakes, balls, puddings, and slices of all varieties, the aim of ‘The Peanut Butter Bar’ is to enable customers on restricted diets or eating plans to eat a healthy treat once in awhile. Despite consumers’ awareness of the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, we continue to see a high number of indulgent food and drink launches globally. This goes hand-in-hand with the recently popularised ‘flexitarian’ trend, where people are eating healthily the majority of the time, but indulge in something decadent when they do allow themselves a treat.

peanut butter

Delon Wang, Manager of Trends, Asia Pacific

K PRO, China

K PRO, a new restaurant concept launched by KFC, has been labelled as the first commercial outlet to integrate Alibaba’s ‘Smile to Pay’ facial recognition payment technology which allows customers to pay for their orders through facial recognition. The technology uses a multi-step authentication process, including a facial scan and mobile phone number, to verify the identity of customers and enable payment. This foodservice trend is reflected in Mintel Trend ‘Seamless Spending’ which discusses how digital payment technologies are changing how, when, and where people can buy and brands can sell.

k pro

Joyce Lam, Trends Analyst, Asia Pacific

Case Study, Malaysia

Case Study is a new cocktail bar in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, that is designed to include elements of a greenhouse. The bar sports a variety of herbs and plants which are used as actual ingredients in all its cocktail concoctions. Offering a variety of cocktails, customers can choose from various taste profiles, opting for drinks that are sweet, viscous, earthy, and more. Given Malaysia’s strong agricultural sector, there is considerable potential for persuading consumers to go local—a concept that’s in line with Mintel Trend ‘Locavore’ which explores consumers’ growing interest in buying local.

case study

Delon Wang, Manager of Trends, Asia Pacific

Coco’s, Japan

As Mintel Trend ‘Who needs Humans?’ explains, automated technology has machines increasingly replacing people not only in manufacturing, but also in service industries such as retail, hospitality, and even foodservice. Japan has been at the forefront of the rise of the machines, with the Japanese government having identified robotics as the impetus behind the next industrial revolution. Earlier in 2017, Japanese family chain, Coco’s, tested talking robots at a venue in Yokohama, Japan, as a way of entertaining diners while they wait for their orders to arrive. Coco’s is considering implementing the robots nationwide by 2020, at which time they could be programmed to communicate differently with certain demographics.


Joyce Lam, Trends Analyst, Asia Pacific

Keen to know more about the consumer trends playing out in Asia Pacific? Mintel’s ‘Top Trends in Asia-Pacific’ quarterly webinar series features Mintel Trends analysts sharing the research and evidence behind key consumer trends, providing examples of how leading-edge brands are already responding to trends, and offering recommendations for how companies can plug into the strategy. Sign up to join the next ‘Top Trends in Asia-Pacific’ webinar here.

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