APAC’s burgeoning middle class providing huge opportunities for food firms: Kerry APAC boss

By Lester Wan

- Last updated on GMT

Kerry has just reopened its newly-expanded Regional Development and Application Centre in Bangpoo, Thailand.
Kerry has just reopened its newly-expanded Regional Development and Application Centre in Bangpoo, Thailand.
John Savage, President and CEO of Kerry APMEA, said consumer tastes in the region are rapidly changing due to the growing middle-class and increased travel, which is opening South East Asian markets up to a raft of new international flavours and opportunities for business growth.

Savage told us this had created a tremendous opportunity for Kerry, with the company’s sales revenue from Asia Pacific increasing by 13.1% in 2017, to cross the US$1b mark.

“We are projecting continued growth from this region, driven by the increase in the number of middle class consumers in APAC, which is predicted to reach 2.8 billion by 2030,” ​said Savage.

“We’re seeing a lot of growth in cheese products, and rising demand for Western-style coffee. Everyone is also watching out for the latest food craze and trends from Korea, Japan and Taiwan.

“International and local brands need to be quick to gain a first-mover advantage as these South East Asian markets open-up.”

Thailand key to strategy

On the back of this opportunity, Kerry has just reopened its newly-expanded Regional Development and Application Centre in Bangpoo, Thailand, that has also been designated as a Centre of Excellence for Meat – Kerry’s first of such in the Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa (APMEA) region.

Savage said Thailand represents a key part of Kerry’s strategy to continue to grow in Asia Pacific as it is an important regional hub for many of its customers in South East Asia.

“With the latest research and application capabilities in the expanded Regional Development and Application Centre, we aim to increase the local innovation pipeline to help our customers in Southeast Asia and beyond stay ahead of the curve and to grow market share,”​ he said.

The expanded Regional Development and Application Centre spans more than 8,500 square metres and is equipped with the latest technologies. Here, Kerry will work with customers on all stages of product development — from ideation to application and manufacturing — for meat, snacks, bakery, dairy and beverages.

Further upgrades to the Centre include new facilities for brands to develop authentic, savoury tastes and flavours. For example, the application lab includes Kerry’s latest Clean Smoke technology, for firms to experiment with using smoke condensate to add a signature taste and smoke profile to meat, vegetables, dessert and even beverages.

In Thailand, Savage said the company will continue to innovate to tap on the continued growth in liquid beverage solutions for foodservice chains, as well as in innovative meat products.

“F&B products for convenience stores are also a key target for us, given that there are more than 13,000 outlets across Thailand currently,” ​he added.

Centre of Excellence for Meat

Within the Application Centre, the first Centre of Excellence for Meat includes “best-in-class” taste and functional technologies, allowing Kerry to co-develop signature meat profiles based on different protein types, helping customers keep pace with technically challenging and fast-changing meat markets in APMEA.

It is equipped with facilities for developing seasonings, marinades, coatings, stabilizers, emulsifiers and complete premixes that deliver unique taste, tenderness and juiciness, and improve texture and shelf-life for different protein types.

With pilot-scale equipment, Kerry’s RDA teams can test value-added meat, poultry and seafood processes as products are being developed, to help customers develop commercially viable and innovative products “at an unrivalled speed to market”​.

In the Application Centre, customer engagement kitchens and beverage bars further allow the in-house chefs, mixologists and baristas to co-develop new menu concepts alongside customers.

Furthermore, additional down packing and blending lines not only double the centre’s production capacity but also aim to provide food service customers with greater flexibility and efficiency in how their food products are packed.

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