Ready meals growth leads to further Asia expansion for Exter

By Lester Wan contact

- Last updated on GMT

The firm is seeing regional growth in demand for ready meals. ©iStock
The firm is seeing regional growth in demand for ready meals. ©iStock

Related tags: Asia

Ingredients firm Exter has expanded its Asian presence with a new regional application centre and sales office in Bangkok, Thailand on the back of rising demand for ready meals and convenience goods.

The company sells taste ingredients for bouillon, soups, meat and meat substitutes, sauces, snacks and ready meals.

While Exter is represented in 45 countries around the world, largely through distributors, it opened its only production plant outside the Netherlands in Thailand in 2011. It also opened sales offices in China and Indonesia last year.

Iwona Brederveld, product manager, said Asia’s rising population and increasing urbanisation was driving demand for grab-and-go products.

“There’s a particular shift towards more people in need of having easy or ready meals,”​ Brederveld said.

But consumers are also looking for high-quality, natural ingredients, with a taste “like home”, she added.

She said there are also more unexpected food trends in Asia including MSG and caramel replacement, a growing trend towards natural ingredients, and clean labelling in Thailand and in China.

Brederveld said Exter’s business has seen steady growth of 15% year-on-year, and “double-digit growth” in the region.

Local presence

With the expanded operations in Bangkok, about 30 of its 95-strong staff are now based in Asia.

Brederveld said that all the Asian markets have seen increasing sales. The company’s strategy is firstly to ensure a stronger presence in the region by adding local people to the team.

“A local salesperson helps by telling us what customers need, what ingredients or tastes are required, and then we develop them for that client,”​ she said.

In fact, Brederveld said that Exter’s application centre is more of a laboratory kitchen.

According to her, Exter’s production processes firstly involve hours of slow, gentle simmering to make a bouillon with ingredients added according to the recipe. The bouillon is matured for weeks, and sometimes even months. Slow cooking is also done to reduce it.

“During this concentrating process, a stronger taste is created,”​ she said.

The bouillon is reduced to a thick substance and then put into roasting tins in the oven.

Brederveld said Exter’s oven roasting is a traditional process, and that using real ovens produces strong aromas.

The result is a “crusty cake”​ that is 100% concentrated, and an "impactful" taste ingredient.

In the creation of the final taste, the taste ingredients are combined with the raw materials to create the desired taste for their customer.

 “When you stand next to the customer and put the taste ingredients in their product, and can taste the result together and understand each other, it will be quicker to find the right solution,”​ said Brederveld.

The new regional application centre and sales office are at Soi Sukhumvit, Bangkok.

 

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