That was one of the takeaways from DuPont Nutrition’s regional director for regulatory and scientific affairs Cyndy Au’s presentation at our inaugural Probiota Asia summit this morning.
Au, who is also an associate fellow at the Institute of Asian Consumer insights, was speaking about opportunities in Asia’s probiotics market.
She said Asian consumers tend to place a greater emphasis on getting good value for their money, and are therefore more likely to buy probiotic products that contain multiple strains as opposed to products with only one probiotic strain.
Au then stressed the importance of manufacturers working closely with regulators to ensure that product innovation in this sector would not be hindered.
Format was also pinpointed as highly important to Asian consumers.
Au talked about how food and culture are intertwined in the region, saying that Asians have a strong preference for freshly made food and usually start the day with a hot meal.
As such, manufacturers would do well to develop stable and sustainable probiotic strains in formats that can be added to familiar local dishes.
She said, “Asians perceive swallowing tablets as treatment for illness instead of maintenance of good health. Probiotics have a bigger chance of success if they cater to these cultural beliefs.”
Au also said Asian consumers usually scrutinise specific functional health claims before deciding to purchase a health product, meaning extensively researched probiotic strains whose efficacy is supported by scientific evidence are a must.
She said trustworthy probiotic manufacturers “will develop deep competency in in vitro, animal pre-clinical and human clinical trials to substantiate health benefits” attributed to probiotic products.
The probiotics segment is tipped to drive 44% of functional food market growth in APAC.
Referring to a DBS report, Au said Asia’s ongoing urbanisation, higher disposable incomes and increased consumer interest in health products mean food demand will more than double by 2020 to just under US$3 trillion annually.
This bodes well for commercial probiotic sales in the region; already, strains of Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria have seen ‘exponential growth’.
In fact, APAC has the highest compounded annual growth rate for probiotics, with an anticipated 8.3% over five years and market value potential of US$19.2 billion in 2020.
At present, Australia and Japan are among the largest probiotics markets, and consumer awareness of probiotics’ health benefits is driving growth in China and India.