Trend tracker: The latest APAC consumer and market insights for the food and beverage industry

By Gary Scattergood contact

- Last updated on GMT

Asia's dairy trends are evolving. ©GettyImages
Asia's dairy trends are evolving. ©GettyImages
In the first of our monthly round-ups of the need-to-know market and consumer trend developments in APAC, we reveal the latest insights around dairy, organic, noodles, retail and food safety.

Asian dairy tastes

The US Dairy Export Council (USDEC) and Food Innovation and Resource Center (FIRC) at Singapore Polytechnic are tapping into rising dairy demand by creating South East Asian food with reduced salt and sugar, using US dairy ingredients.

One example, was the use of pandan flavoured US permeates in cookies. Others include gula meleka coconut cake made with 75% US permeate. 

South East Asia is the second-largest market for US dairy exports​, with a value of US$690m last year. Canada was the biggest export market, valuing at US$636m.

Within the region, the Philippines is USDEC’s largest market, followed by Indonesia, Ghazalay pointed out.

In terms of consumer trends, USDEC said SEA consumers were increasingly conscious of artificial food ingredients, preferring natural, clean label products.

Noodle sales bounce back

Asia has retained the top five spots for instant noodle consumption worldwide, with four out of the top five countries recording year-on-year growth.

According to new figures from the World Instant Noodle Association​ (WINA), China and Hong Kong have remained the top consumers of instant noodles worldwide for several years running. This year was no different, as they  topped the charts with 38.97 billion packets sold, outstripping the first runner-up on the list, Indonesia (12.62 billion packets), by over three times.

Coming in at third, fourth and fifth spot respectively were Japan (5.66 billion packets), India (5.42 billion packets) and Vietnam (5.06 billion packets).

In 2013, sales in China and Hong Kong peaked at 46.22 billion. However, the following three years saw a continuous downturn in numbers, dropping 17% to 38.52 billion in 2016. This plunge was attributed to the growing popularity of food delivery, as well as increasing awareness of healthier foods​.

Organic boom for New Zealand

New Zealand's domestic organic product sector is growing twice as fast as its non-organic sector​, up 8.1% per year in retail sales versus the latter's 4.8%.

Rising consumer awareness of health and wellbeing were cited as the main reason for this.

New Zealand’s total organic products market is valued around USD 402 million (NZD 600 million), and has grown by 30% or USD 93.1 million (NZD 139 million) since 2015, according to statistics from the 2018 Organic Aotearoa New Zealand (OANZ) Market Report​.

Some 80% of local consumers make organic purchases at least twice a month. Fresh food items make up over half (51%) of all purchases, followed by packaged/frozen foods (35%).

China’s food safety trends

China consumers regard a product’s country of origin, price, brand, and physical prevention measures such as tamper proof seals as the most trusted indicators in identifying authentic and safe foods, a group of researchers found.

In contrast, certifications and QR codes are less unlikely to win the trust of the consumers, the researchers added.

This is because consumers believe that these credentials and codes could be easily falsified.

The researchers conducted a mixed method survey consisting of qualitative and quantitative studies in three Chinese cities, including Beijing, Guangzhou and Chengdu. 

Asia’s domestic retail growth

Asia’s large format retailers — supermarkets and hypermarkets — are set to grow 3.3% a year to 2022​, with firms in Vietnam, India and the Philippines forecast to see double-digit growth over the next five years.

Most of this growth is predicted to be driven by domestic retailers except for Vietnam, where foreign retailers have been investing to gain a foothold in the fast-growing market, said global research organisation IGD.

Indonesia will have steady growth also driven mainly by domestic players, with China coming through as another market with significant growth opportunities due to its vast geography.

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