ASEAN Focus: South East Asia dairy challenges, sugar alternative expansion, low-GI bakery and more feature in our round-up

By Pearly Neo

- Last updated on GMT

South East Asia dairy challenges, sugar alternative expansion, low-GI bakery and more feature in this edition of ASEAN Focus. ©Getty Images
South East Asia dairy challenges, sugar alternative expansion, low-GI bakery and more feature in this edition of ASEAN Focus. ©Getty Images

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South East Asia dairy challenges, sugar alternative expansion, low-GI bakery and more feature in this edition of ASEAN Focus.

ASEAN dairy difficulties: Lactose intolerance and supply chain challenges can be overcome - Yili

Persistent supply chain challenges and lactose intolerance in a large majority of consumers in the South East Asian region has led to difficulties for dairy firms to achieve sales or market shares as high as those in western countries, but industry leaders believe that this can be changed.Story:

Although dairy products from milk to ice cream are very commonly found in the kitchens of ASEAN consumers, the fact remains that per capita dairy consumption in the region is far lower than that in many other markets. According to Yili, this lower consumption can be explained by widespread lactose intolerance in the region.

That said, the firm remains confident in its plans for the ASEAN region, standing by its strong belief that this current situation is due to consumer habits that have been formed over the years - a situation which can still be corrected with proper consumer education and promotion.

“Dairy products have traditionally been regarded as food for children and the elderly, and there are large lactose-intolerant populations in South East Asia – this in turn means dairy has not [had the chance to be] incorporated into regional cuisine yet,”​ Yili Assistant President Dr Yun Zhanyou told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

Swift expansion: ASEAN sugar alternative firm developing RTE options and eyeing Europe entry

Philippines, Vietnam and Singapore-based sugar alternative firm Swiftlet is widening its portfolio with the development of new ready-to-eat (RTE) and lower-cost options of its sugar replacement product, whilst also planning for entry into the European market come the second quarter of this year.

Swiftlet is moving on to the second phase of its growth strategy with market expansion within South East Asia into Singapore and Vietnam, and is targeting its first European entry later this year.

“The first European markets of interest for us are Portugal and Spain, which will be phase three for us which will commence in the second quarter of 2022,”​ Swiftlet Co-Founder and Head of R&D Minh Le told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

Love for loaf: Malaysian firm fulfils four-year mission to launch low-GI bread range

A four year-long research and development (R&D) project has led to launch of a new low-GI bread range in Malaysia – one of several South East nations battling surges in obesity and diabetes.

The Healthy Joy​ range, launched by Nova, has a slow-carb system and a low glycaemic index (GI) of 35. It also contains Omega-9 oils.

Chief Business Officer of Nova Nicholas Cheong Peck Hiang said: “Food in Malaysia usually has a high GI and trans-fat content.

“We (Malaysians) all probably know relatives suffering from diabetes or heart disease. We need to change this.

Asian advantage: Region has packaging sustainability edge over the West, but will retailers capitalise?

Asia has the potential to lead the way in the food and beverage sector’s packaging sustainability endeavours, but retailer red tape and legacy mindsets need to quickly be overcome to achieve maximum impact.

That’s the view of Marina Tran-Vu, founder of eco-friendly drink straws firm EQUO, and the latest guest in our Trailblazers podcast. Vietnam-based EQUO is best-known for creating eco-friendly straws with even higher sustainability and hygiene credentials over current metal or paper straws, which have also been launched internationally in Singapore.

“After entering this industry, the biggest thing that struck me was how aware people are about things they make or use and the impact on the environment – the level of awareness about this within the food industry is truly showing some real progress,”​ she told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

Show of strength: Abbott drives muscle health awareness in Singapore through hawker initiative

Abbott is promoting public awareness on muscle health in Singapore through an initiative targeting food hawkers, amid concerns that consumers have less awareness of the condition compared to other ageing-related difficulties.

As part of the initiative, the company is distributing a starter kit consisting of its flagship oral nutrition supplement ENSURE in sachets and leaflets on nutrition tips to build physical health.

ENSURE contains beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB), an ingredient that has been shown to slow down muscle breakdown and support the building of muscle tissue.

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