While India, China and Japan remain its biggest markets, Lay Kwan, BASF regional manager in marketing in human nutrition, Asia Pacific, took time out from from the buzzing Bangkok show floor today to describe how other A-Pac nations are blipping ever-larger on its food and nutrition sector radar.
“India, China and Japan are our biggest markets but we have countries growing fast and furious like Thailand, Indonesia and Australia and New Zealand. So they are becoming focus markets too.”
Singapore-based Kwan says success can only be achieved with deep investment in local markets and being sensitive to local tastes, laws and means of doing business.
Looking at BASF’s large, well-populated FI-Asia stand it seems to be putting its money where its mouth is. There are few Caucasian faces to be seen.
“But we need the Germans and the Europeans,” Kwan relays. “It is not so much about whether you are German or French or Singaporean or Thai, it is about the global alliance and that as BASF we have one voice.”
One voice but… “when it comes adapting that to local needs and local cultures and consumer needs we do that fairly quickly on a regional basis.”
Kwan adds: “The insight is different and thus the innovations and solutions need to cater to that. We are close to the markets and we can respond quickly to local issues.”
In some cases that meant forming partnerships with local players including distributors.
Kwan spoke of the phenomenon of the growing middle class in markets like Thailand and Indonesia, a class of people better educated about their health and becoming “proactive health managers”.
“Whether it is looking at fortified foods or food supplements we find Thai consumers are taking a more proactive stance because they are more educated about what nutritional solutions exist. This is pretty much the trend in this part of Asia.”
Non-communicable diseases, cardiovascular health were health areas of focus via plant sterols for cholesterol management and omega-3 for heart and cognitive health. Vitamins and CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) were also on display.
“We see a lot of opportunity here for our ingredients, especially our health ingredients portfolio.”
Kwan said sustainability issues resonated with Asian consumers as product information spread on the internet, with an increasing number scanning labels for sourcing data.
“Clean label is getting big here.”
Food Ingredient-Asia finishes tomorrow.