Report: Changing tastes and online sales drive Apac fresh-food growth

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock

Related tags: Milk, Nutrition

Fresh food consumption in Asia-Pacific will increase to over 1.4bn tonnes by 2019, according to a study by Technavio as improving technology drives sales from online channels.

Online grocery shopping is expected to emerge as the key distribution channel of fresh food products in the Asia-Pacific region until 2019​,” said Arushi Thakur, a Technavio lead analyst. “Speedy delivery and economical selling prices are major growth drivers of online grocery shopping​.”

While Asia-Pacific online vendors initially focused only on consumer goods, food and beverage retailers entered the sway as technology has become available to make the delivery process easier, she said. 

The popularity of online deliveries has prompted food and beverage manufacturers to sell their products on a national and international scale. To aid fresh food manufacturers, online grocers like Grofers and BigBasket in India offer a virtual marketplace to consumers, where they access their orders online and avail timely doorstep delivery​,” said Thakur. 

In order of size, the Asia-Pacific fresh food market is segmented by fruits and vegetables, meat and poultry, dairy products, bread and bakery products, and fish and seafood.

Fresh fruit and vegetable consumption amounted to around 452m tonnes in 2014, with Technavio analysts anticipating “huge demand​” for produce over the next four years due to growing vegetarianism and increased health awareness.

In spite of being a niche market, the demand for organic food among APAC consumers increased by nearly 20% in 2014, and was particularly high in agriculturally prominent countries. The highest organic demand was for rice, dairy, and fresh fruits and vegetables in Japan, New Zealand, Australia and Korea. 

Thakur expects the Asia-Pacific meat and poultry market to see steady growth until 2019. While wet markets are the most preferred destinations for sourcing fresh meat, consumers are now moving towards supermarkets and hypermarkets on account of their higher standards of hygiene and labelling and greater convenience. Meat consumers are opting for higher protein intake due to growing wealth. 

Fresh dairy goods accounted for 157m tonnes of sales in 2014, with most of the demand coming from developing companies. According to Thakur, effective consumer communication and improved labelling will drive the growth of this segment over the next four years. 

This high demand has been encouraging dairy manufacturers to develop new packaging techniques that increase shelf life of dairy products. China is emerging as a significant consumer of dairy products, with consumers developing a taste for cheese in particular.

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