“These food and drink trends explore how consumers’ evolving priorities, advancements in functional formulation, and the almost inescapable reach of technology will affect food and drink,” said Avanthi Ravindran, senior trend and innovation consultant at Mintel Southeast Asia and India.
These four key “mega-trends” are likely to shape Asia-Pacific food and beverage innovation in the coming year and develop further over the next three to five years, she said.
The first trend describes how consumers are now trying to eat more healthily and exploring alternative health products to achieve a balanced diet.
From a product perspective, there has been a clear increase in vegan or vegetarian claims over the last five years, according to Mintel. Bakery, snacks, sauces and seasonings are emerging spaces for product innovation in this area.
Meanwhile, the agency has identified how sports nutrition elements have become more important to mainstream consumers who want to be healthier and fitter.
“Companies should bear in mind that the mainstream segment is constantly expanding because more and more people are recognising the need to be healthier, as shown in the growing interest for these type of products,” said Ravindran. “We need to continue to look for new sources and innovate.”
In terms of this trend across Asia-Pacific, Australia is ahead of the curve, but within Southeast Asia, Singapore and Thailand are leading. Japan and Korea are also in the advanced space, while progress is increasing in China and India, Mintel found.
This second key trend has seen consumers romanced by the stories products tell about their origin, ingredients or inspiration, though confusion abounds when similar claims are made by legitimately hand-crafted products alongside mass-produced food and drink, Ravindran said.
Big manufacturers can take a cue from their “think small” mentality and use it in terms of devising strategies on how to portray such stories to consumers.
“Consumers are really buying into the stories that brands are telling them: where it comes from, what is special about it, who made it and how exclusive the product makes the consumer feel,” said Ravindran.
“We are also seeing bigger manufacturers recognising the fact that consumers are wanting more of these original stories within the products they buy.”
While flavour has long been the focus of innovation, Asia-Pacific’s more visual and share-focused society calls for innovations that are boldly coloured, artfully constructed and sometimes just cool, according to research done by Mintel on this third trend.
Eating is now all about how the food looks, said Ravindran. Consumers are more active on social media and food is often the central element of posts, driving creativity at restaurants and at home that brands can tap into or drive.
“Going beyond this trend of eating with your eyes, we're talking about how people want to share their experiences and why they capture food.
“From a manufacturer's perspective, there is a lot of innovation happening with colour, shape and the element of playfulness in a product, which is something that consumers want,” said added.
While brands are accustomed to focusing on the texture and appearance of their products, they can also bring in a health element to this. Chia seeds provide one good example of a new texture aspect that is visually appealing but at the same time it is a health ingredient, Ravindran said.
With more consumers living in single-person households or sometimes eating meals alone, brands need to provide appropriate-sized products and packaging along with promotions designed to erode the stigma of dining solo, Mintel found.
Moreover, the growth of online shopping, applications and on-demand delivery services has been transforming consumers’ access to deals, niche food and drink products, and even full meals.
With internet penetration growing in this region, the development of new solutions within e-commerce is building. Physical stores can also experiment with online ordering, subscriptions or delivery, offering customers convenience without sacrificing loyalty.
Ravindran said: “The e-revolution, such as online shopping, is going to grow further in the next few years despite a slower growth curve in Asia compared to what is seen in Western markets. Growth in internet penetration will lead to further development of this trend in Asia.”
- Avanthi Ravindran was speaking at one of the Food Industry Asia’s Lunch Series events in Singapore, which feature speakers and panels on topics that are relevant to FIA’s priorities.
FIA, which represents food and beverage manufacturers in Asia, will provide the focal point for the opening day of the inaugural Food Vision Asia, which takes place in Singapore from April 27-29 and coincides with the industry body's annual general meeting.
Food Vision Asia is a top-level industry event organised by the publisher of FoodNavigator-Asia, William Reed Business Media.
Already established with similar events in Cannes and Chicago, Food Vision will debut in Asia this year with food industry innovators, strategists and analysts to discuss market challenges, business opportunities and what today’s consumers really want through a series of presentations, debates and round-table discussions.
The extended programme has been informed by the expert editorial teams of FoodNavigator and NutraIngredients.
All attendees for Food Vision Asia, which is organised by the publisher of FoodNavigator-Asia, will be welcome to attend the FIA welcome reception on April 27, whether or other they are members of FIA.
For more information on Food Vision Asia, visit: www.foodvisionasia.com