Trend Tracker: Insect alternative protein, China dairy development, ASEAN kombucha growth and more feature in our round-up

By Pearly Neo

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Insect alternative protein, China dairy development, ASEAN kombucha growth and more feature in this edition of Trend Tracker. ©Getty Images
Insect alternative protein, China dairy development, ASEAN kombucha growth and more feature in this edition of Trend Tracker. ©Getty Images

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Insect alternative protein, China dairy development, ASEAN kombucha growth and more feature in this edition of Trend Tracker.

Cricket challenges: Can format innovation help Asia’s insect-based snack sector go global?

Thailand insect-based brand Cric-Co believes that there is a large potential market for insect-based snacks both within its home market and also in international ones, but it is vital that they are in formats that resonate with mainstream consumers.

Although entomophagy - or insect consumption – is known to be part of many traditional diets in various South East Asian, this mostly remains limited to frying the whole insect and selling these at roadside stalls, with little opportunities for branding or appealing to a wider, more modern audience as a mainstream food product.

Interestingly, despite a longer history in this region, the innovation and modernisation of insect consumption has been gaining traction somewhat faster in Western markets, garnering appeal as an alternative protein source that is more sustainable than animal-based protein.

Grasslands dairy funding: Yili and Mengniu back bid to make Inner Mongolia a major hub

The Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region local government has allocated specific funding for the development and revitalisation of the dairy industry in the region, aiming to work with local dairy giants Yili and Mengniu to maximise its potential.

The Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region is the home base for big dairy names such as Yili and Mengniu as it is primarily grasslands, making it a very suitable location for dairy farms to be established.

Recently, the local government in the region has decided to formalise plans to develop a dairy hub there, based on the large volume of dairy activity already taking place, and has allocated a total of CNY348mn (US$52mn) to do this.

“The various financial departments across all levels in the Inner Mongolia Automous Region have put in [these funds] to subsidise dairy farms here and promote the revitalisation of the local dairy sector, especially the local government which has provided CNY290mn in subsidies,”​ said the Dairy Association of China (DAC) via a formal statement.

Brewing with a local twist: ASEAN kombucha market ripe for growth due to health demands

The kombucha market in South East Asia is poised for explosive growth over the next few years due to a significant rise in consumer health awareness and demand for immunity-boosting drinks across various markets.

According to Singapore kombucha specialist firm Forrest Brew, ‘the time is right’ for kombucha to really make a name for itself in the region, where various brands have popped up but the sector stil stands on the precipice of really moving out of being a niche category.

“If you mention kombucha in places like Australia or the United States, there is no need for further explanation and it is just about what everyone’s favourite brand is – the sector is not quite as mature here in South East Asia but we are definitely seeing signs that it is significantly picking up,”​ Forrest Brew Co-Founder Clara Chan told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

Green is gold: Mondelez on why sustainability leads to economic profitability for food industry

Global snacking giant Mondelez says sustainability in business operations is much more important to food and beverage companies to achieve economic profitability than popular opinion currently dictates, urging firms to think in the long-term.

Although sustainability has emerged as a major trend and buzzword in the APAC food and beverage sector over the past several years, with many start-ups and big food companies hopping on the bandwagon to win consumers over based on sustainable product innovations and/or packaging, there still remain many companies that have yet to embrace the movement wholeheartedly due to cost concern, particularly in Asia.

This issue was highlighted at a high-level discussion at the recent Tax Free World Association (TFWA) APAC Live event in Singapore, and was deeply examined by Mondelez World Travel Retail Managing Director Jaya Singh who stressed that it is mostly misconceptions holding people back.

“If you look at the economics of the world we live in, every industry is based on value creation, and although price earnings [are the most obvious] multiple in the equation, it Is important to realise that this multiple – which eventually drives share values and company value and shareholder value – is also dependent on several drivers,”​ Singh told the floor.

Innovation splurge: Thailand’s Sesamilk on dairy alternative expansion and calls for government SME support

Thai firm Sesamilk is planning a major portfolio expansion for its dairy alternative products, whilst also calling for the government to provide more taxation and financial support for SMEs to accelerate growth.

When we last spoke to Sesamilk last year, the Thai firm had just started with its exports to markets such as China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Macau and Vietnam based on just two products – white and black sesame milk.

Less than two years on, it has expanded its reach into several more markets such as Singapore, Malaysia and the United States, and is now working on significantly expanding its product portfolio in order to cater to even more consumers and markets.

“We are a specialist in sesame and do not intend to change this, so our new product development will be focused on a more vertical path,”​ Sesamilk CEO Siripen Suntornmonkongsri told FoodNavigator-Asia

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