‘Hard to sell’: Indulgence and premiumisation trump healthier options in Thailand’s snacking sector

By Pearly Neo

- Last updated on GMT

Brownie House believes that the local snacking sector is still strongly dominated by indulgence and premiumisation. ©Brownie House
Brownie House believes that the local snacking sector is still strongly dominated by indulgence and premiumisation. ©Brownie House

Related tags Thailand snacking brownie

Thailand’s Brownie House believes that the local snacking sector is still strongly dominated by indulgence and premiumisation, making an overly-strong focus on healthier options difficult.

Brownie House lays claim to being the pioneers of the ‘brownie cracker’ – essentially brownies that are made and sold in a cracker format as opposed to a cake format – having developed the idea several years back in order to enter supermarkets.

“Brownie House started off making regular brownies and selling locally, but when we wanted to expand the business into modern trade the main hurdle we faced was shelf life, which is when we developed the brownie crackers to solve this,”​ Brownie House Founder Anuwat Ployphet told FoodNavigator-Asia​ at the recent ThaiFex-Anuga Asia 2023 show in Bangkok.

“Regular brownies have a shelf life of just a few days, but as brownie crackers we have been able to extend this to 18 months, making it not only viable for supermarkets and convenience stores but also for exports.

“There are some others that are also making brownie crackers now, but we were the first to conceptualise this and bring it to market.”

Indeed, this concept has worked swimmingly for Brownie House as today the brand can be found all over the country in major supermarkets such as Tops, Big C, and Lotus’s as well as convenience store chains like 7-Eleven.

“We are also exporting to the big supermarkets FairPrice and Sheng Siong in Singapore, and have entered South Korea as well,”​ he added.

“We are now targeting more markets in Asia first including Japan, Taiwan and the Philippines – from there, the next target will be the Middle East.”

When asked whether he has any plans to ride on the current health and wellness wave to develop gluten free or low-sugar varieties, Ployphet said that these trends are far less applicable to the snacking sector here.

“Consumers that choose to eat snacks are looking for that bit of indulgence and enjoyment, so the health and wellness trend is really not that strong here,”​ he said.

“There is a lot of talk about making healthier products and all of that – but when it comes down to it, not only is the cost much higher and a lot of work needs to be put into it, but the returns are not high as there is far less take-up by consumers than projected so these are harder to sell.

“So for us in this space, specifically the chocolate snacks space, the focus is to be able to fulfil consumer demands in terms of things like chocolate content as well as premiumisation – and the consumer tends to be very sensitive to this if the chocolate content is lower than they expect so we always use a high concentration of high quality cocoa.

“There is also a strong need to focus on convenience and premiumisation – and whilst the development of brownie crackers already provides for much more convenient eating of brownies on-the-go or as a snack in schools or offices, it is not in itself necessarily a premium item.

“So we have worked to achieve this balance by developing premium-looking packaging, ones that will look nice for consumers to carry around or to give as gifts – it’s very much about suiting their lifestyles now.”

New flavour development

Whilst gluten free and low-sugar products look to be off the cards for Brownie House, the firm is working on developing a number of interesting flavours moving forward.

“One flavour we are making is a durian brownie, which we expect a strong market for in China as it suits consumers there who really like durian,”​ Ployphet said.

“Other interesting ones will be things like green tea and coffee – but no matter what the flavour we will still be using a high content of cocoa for the brownies.”

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