Food Onward is a spin-off firm from fish fillet producer APA Foods, and the fish skins discarded from this production process are used to make Food Onwards’ core snacking products.
“The great thing about having a parent company that supplies our raw material is that we have full control over the entire value chain process, and never have to fear any shortage of supply,” Food Onward Sales and Marketing Manager Korachal Tangphadungrutch told FoodNavigator-Asia at the ThaiFex-Anuga Asia 2023 event in Bangkok.
“This enables us to ensure only clean, high-quality ingredients are used – not only when it comes to the fish skins but also the oil that is used to fry these as there are others in the market that use used oil and end up selling a product that is blackish in colour, with a shape and smell that is simply not great.
“We never use used oil, and moreover we have also developed our own in-house technology to ensure our final products are not only not oily but also do not emit a fishy smell.”
The firm also recognises that the fish skin snack category as a whole hit a trending peak about two to three years back, hence is not inclined to depend on its ‘trendiness’ but more on product localisation and innovation to capture its market.
“The fact is that fish skins are not exactly trendy now, so the aim is to revive this category to move it past being a trend, which we are doing by coming up with something new in terms of flavours.
“When the fish skin trend first came about, all the hype mostly surrounded salted egg flavour – so we have moved past that and gone for a more localised Thai route, developing flavours such as Tom Yum, Thai Herbs, Mala and more.
“This has served us well as we are now selling these snacks in multiple markets including Vietnam, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, Japan, Australia and New Zealand – and we intend to develop even more interesting flavours to appeal to more markets.
“This includes Truffle which we know is a trending flavour in Indonesia, in hopes that we can breakthrough there; and the more western flavours like Salt and Pepper or Cheese as these are popular in the ANZ markets.
“We are also going to continue looking at more local flavours in combination with the current spicy trend with what we call the Spicy Trio, a combination of three types of chillis.”
Health and wealth
Tangphadungrutch added that the evolution of the APAC snacking market is highly likely to be both health-focused and trend-focused, making it essential for snack brands to not only have good messaging in their marketing but also be trendy.
“The new generation of consumers knows what they want, including to be seen as trendy and hip even in their snack choices; and also be sure that they are having healthier choices,” he said.
“This is opening the market up to more options like plant-based and lower-sodium – and these are areas that we are also hoping to enter in the future, once we have the bandwidth for more innovation and investment.
“For now, our goal is to really identify and win over this niche that we have found, with a fish skin snack that is made with good oil and comes out less oily, less fishy, less black to give consumers that satisfying crunch.”