With sales of packaged soups representing just a tiny fraction of that in Europe, the future growth of this category depends on whether or not manufacturers can convince consumers that their soups are as healthy and as convenient as the much more commonly used home-made variety.
Besides the Japanese market, consumption of package/branded soup in Asia Pacific is low, with retail sales expected to reach $1,810 million by the end of 2004, according to Euromonitor's estimates. This figure represents a consumption per-capita of only $0.5 compared to $8.7 in Western Europe. The low level of sales for these products is a result of fierce competition from home made soup in most countries, perceived as far healthier and less expensive than their packaged counterparts.
Japan is by far the largest market for these products, with retail sales accounting for almost 90 per cent of the total in the region. It is also a growing market, with Euromonitor estimating that sales will grow by 14 per cent for 2004.
Sales of package/branded food in the rest of Asia Pacific are quite small, and mainly available in canned/preserved and dehydrated versions, though launches in this product category are gathering apace. A look at the most recent launches reveals a diverse range of soup offerings, from traditional Asian recipes, to a healthy organic offering a traditional western style recipe from Knorr.
Perhaps the most unusual launch in the region at the moment is that from Pulmonos, with its Organic Bean Soup. This is a ready-to-serve product that retails at $0.13 for a 400 gram plastic pouch. Although the soyabean soup is an Asian staple, the fact that it is organic and packaged in a plastic pouch certainly makes in noteworthy.
The vast China market is typical of attitudes towards industrially prepared soups, as consumers are still not accustomed to this type of product, and many still regard the category as lacking in taste and nutrition. They much prefer home-made soup, where fresh ingredients are used. Moreover, prices appear high to consumers, with instant noodles having a price advantage, when they serve the same purpose. Euromonitor estimates that sales of packaged soup in this country will reach around $10 million at the end of 2004.
Elsewhere in the region, markets in South-East Asia have plenty of potential to consume larger quantities of packaged soups as soup-based products form a significant part of everyday cuisine there. Vietnam is a prime example of this trend, and following this local food company Bich Chi Food is launching Pho Dinh Duong Nutrition Noodle Soup. Again, this product appears in a flexible pouch. It contains seafood and alga powder and retails at €0.10.
Another market in the region that is of certain - but still modest - importance is The Philippines, with retail sales of packaged food worth $14 mn in 2004, according to Euromonitor's estimates. The regional diversity in the Filipino's cuisine is one of the reasons why sales of packaged/branded soup remain underdeveloped. Few soup brands have embraced the local flavours in order to gain popularity with Filipino consumers. The majority of soup offerings are geared towards the high-end consumer base because Filipinos have identified cream-based soups with the Western type of fine-dining.
This range of soups is part of a selection from Mintel's Global New Product Database .