India’s 'free from...' food claims lead the way for Asia-Pacific

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food Food additive Food processing

India’s 'free from...' food claims lead the way for Asia-Pacific
As health concerns climb the global consumer agenda, manufacturers are quick to respond with new products to meet demand. But when it comes to items claiming that they contain no additives or preservatives, India seems to be leading the way.

This is according to new Mintel research that places India at top of the Asia-Pacific rankings for products with such claims in the food and drink category, which today accounts for 18% of NPD in the Asia-Pacific region.

Deepa Dsouza, trend and innovation consultant for Mintel India, puts this trend down to middle-class consumers taking greater care of their health. 

Health claims are growing in importance for the Indian consumer, and consumers are now much more aware about the ingredients in the food and drink products they choose and the benefits of choosing healthily​,” she explained. 

The primary driver for the increase in these claims in India is the consumer’s perception of food additives or preservatives being considered unsafe, and concerns about food safety and long-term toxicity of these chemicals on their future health​.”

New Indian food and drink products that profess to be free of additives and preservatives are up from 14% in 2008 to 18% in 2011. Already in 2012, they account for 16% of the overall food and drink market. In the food category alone, such products have risen from 14% to 17% of total new food product launches; in drink, it has increased from 13% to 15% in just three years. 

This compares to the second biggest market in the region for “No Additives or Preservatives” claims—Australia at 15%. The third largest, Thailand, accounted for 13% of the market in 2011 and China for 12%. Meanwhile, the next countries in the region in the top five, New Zealand and Taiwan trail behind at 6% respectively.

Last year, India sat in 5th place globally with 5% of global food and drink NPD for “No Additives/Preservatives” claims. 

A few years ago, India’s growing processed food industries—especially for fruit products and juices—triggered the growth of additives and preservatives in the country to offer more convenience to the Indian consumer​,” added Dsouza.

However, increased consumer awareness and government interventions to make cleaner and healthier products have compelled food manufacturers—and not just the big multinationals, but also the smaller local players—to adopt “No Additives or Preservatives” claims​.”

And it is not just additives and preservatives making an impact on the agenda of Indian food and drink manufacturers. Organic claims have also shown strong growth from 1% in 2008 to 2% in 2011, and already 3.4% in 2012. 

Furthermore, antioxidant claims in food and drink NPD have grown from 1% in 2008 to 2% in 2011 and 3% in 2012; bone health claims have gone from 0.26% in 2008 to 1% in 2011 and 2% in 2012, and cardiovascular claims from 1% in 2008 to 3% in 2011 and 3% in 2012. 

“Free from…” claims are also increasing with food and drink NPD, with gluten-free claims rising from 1% in 2008 to 2% in 2011 and 2012, and GMO-free from 0.5% in 2008 to 1% in 2011 and 2% in 2012.

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