This was triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic which has put a spotlight on prices of food products, with many consumers thinking more carefully about cost.
According to a survey conducted last year by Palsgaard which involved consumers from Mexico (n=150), Singapore (n=162), UK (n=154) and US (n=151), 67%, those surveyed in Singapore said price had become more important to them.
Across all four countries, the average was 55%. Palsgaard supplies emulsifiers and stabilisers across food industries such as bakery and confectionery.
Palsgaard Asia-Pacific managing director Boon Weng Low said: “The majority of Asian consumers will first look for affordable foods and of course taste is an important factor to influence the selection of value-for-money products.”
“Popular flavours are localised like ube in the Philippines, lemongrass in Thailand, durian in Malaysia and Singapore, and red bean in Japan and South Korea,” added Haydee Carlos, Palsgaard’s global application manager.
Low continues: “Consumers want a product that taste good, is affordable, followed by a healthier option.”
Traditionally, carbohydrate-rich baked goods such as rice, bread, grains, biscuit and cakes are an affordable main source of energy in the Asian diet.
However, as consumers are becoming more health conscious, there is increasing variety of higher fiber, whole grain, lower fat, no additives range of baked goods.
But Low said the health trend was still a niche market for the baked goods sector in Asia, especially since such options would tend to cost more.
“There are smaller group of consumers who are looking for healthier baked goods, such as Singapore where people have a higher purchasing power than countries in the region”, Low said.
While the pandemic had increased the importance of price, it also influenced environmental focus on issues such as climate change or using sustainably produced ingredients.
In the same survey conducted last year, 41% of global consumers said environmental concerns were becoming a more important factor when purchasing food products, while 55% said there were no change.
Within sustainability, one growing trend was plant-based products, which was first noticed in the meat and protein space, and is now influencing the bakery industry.
Consumers are now looking for plant-based alternatives in their baked goods, which meant replacing traditional ingredients such as butter, milk and egg.
“Consumers will also look for CO2 neutral, sustainable grade/certified of raw materials such as RSPO vegetable oil, renewable energy and reducing waste,” Low added.
However, he said sustainability tend to come with a higher cost. For instance, plant-based milk typically cost more than dairy milk.
“Many young people in Asia like the idea of sustainability, but they are not willing to pay for it. I think this demand will only come 10 years from now, and would also depend on government enforcement.”