Global consultancy firm Frost & Sullivan’s analysis report, Functional foods in Asia Pacific, found that the market needs continued research into potential health benefits and disease prevention abilities to boost awareness and usage of functional foods.
Market participants then need to be focused on driving public insight into these benefits, it stated.
Radhika Puri, Frost & Sullivan associate, told FoodNavigator-Asia that there is market potential as demand for functional foods is certainly there.
She said: “There is a rising level of health consciousness throughout Asia Pacific… and in certain countries there is a higher demand for functional foods, such as Japan, Korea and the Philippines.”
The analysis report detailed diabetes, cancer, growth and nutrition, weight management and obesity and bone health as a few of Asia Pacific consumers’ health concerns.
Exposure and health information
Puri explained that in order to boost the market, research behind health claims needs to be stronger and then projected more clearly to the consumer.
“It’s about giving the consumers the information they need; about the effects, side-effects and dosage recommendations. If manufacturers provide all this, they will have a higher chance of succeeding in the market.”
“There are a lot of claims being made across various products, some false, and this is causing consumers to doubt them… right now, there is still speculation in Asia about functional foods,” Puri continued.
The uncertainty towards functional foods is mainly down to lack of education as not many people are aware of the benefits, but this can be changed by manufacturers, she explained.
Research is strengthening in certain countries with a “growing trend of academic research and clinical studies into validating the safety and efficacy of these functional ingredients,” according to the report.
It also detailed that higher regulatory standards are being enforced by governments throughout Asia Pacific, as a result of misleading claims on labels, in a bid to prevent the public being misinformed and instil confidence.
Further exposure is also needed to strengthen market penetration, Puri pointed out.
“Media coverage is needed to push products… currently the media in Asia Pacific is still focused on unhealthy, fast foods.”
The Frost & Sullivan associate noted Japan’s strength in the functional foods and linked this to tougher regulations on certification in the country.
She suggested that it is this higher level of market professionalism makes the country a good target.