Fi Asia 2018

Carbs crash: Meal replacement snack bar opportunities abound in Indonesia

By Gary Scattergood

- Last updated on GMT

Snack bars are relatively new in Indonesia and per capita consumption remains at negligible levels.  ©GettyImages
Snack bars are relatively new in Indonesia and per capita consumption remains at negligible levels. ©GettyImages

Related tags Fi Asia 2018 Carbohydrate Meal replacement Snack bars

With a quarter of urban Indonesians are avoiding, or intend to avoid, carbohydrates, analysts are predicting a bright future for the nation’s fledgling meal replacement snack bar sector.

The issue of Indonesia’s rising cases of obesity and diabetes was a hot topic at last week’s Fi Asia show, with several conference and seminar sessions assessing what could be done to boost public health.

According to World Health Organisation data, 7% of the population has diabetes, while 24% are overweight and 6% obese, with projections forecasting these numbers to rise considerably to 2050.

Amid this backdrop, one relatively small sector that could be set to flourish is meal replacement snack bars.

Analysts at Mintel point out that snack bars are well-poised to serve as permissible and satiating treats for Indonesians looking to keep their diets on track.

“Currently, low carb diets are very much in the spotlight with nearly three in 10 Indonesians looking to avoid carbohydrates. This is comparable to avoidance rates in Australia and Thailand,” ​notes the research firm’s Asia Pacific: The Food and Drink Landscape​ report.

“Given the popularity of foods such as rice and noodles in their diet, Indonesians will be on the lookout for low-carb alternatives that can help them stick to their dietary goals.

“The apparent observance of low carb diets in Indonesia indicates an opportunity for the development of products with greater weight loss functionality, or even meal replacement bars, that serve as meals for those following special diets.”

Beating the market

This is an opportunity that has also been identified by Euromonitor, which discovered that healthier options such as fruit snacks, snack bars and fortified/functional sweet biscuits are gaining popularity and experienced faster growth in 2017 than traditional snacks.

However, both stress that the market for meal replacement bars in particular remains small, but Mintel adds that “the meal replacement snack bar, consumed as part of a diet plan, is a concept worth testing in this market.”

“Snack bars are relatively new in Indonesia and per capita consumption remains at negligible levels. The category is, however, experiencing strong sustained growth,”​ it added.

Euromonitor shares the positive outlook, especially for products with weight management benefits.

“Healthy lifestyles have become a recent trend amongst Indonesian consumers. People are now more aware of their health, such as consuming less white rice, replacing dinner with meal replacement products, or consuming weight loss supplements.

“Weight management and wellbeing is expected to continue to grow in the next five years, along with the healthier lifestyles consumers are trying to achieve. The rising number of organic foods and superfood producers in Indonesia indicates that consumers are starting to be aware of the benefits of healthier lifestyles.”

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