According to palm oil giant Musim Mas, this is just as important as meeting health and wellness trends.
“We [see] a great demand for healthy, fortified beverages [especially] as older consumers become more educated and aware of what they are consuming,” Musim Mas Manager for Dairy and Frozen Desserts Cecilia Ng told FoodNavigator-Asia.
“These older consumers are thinking more about health [and] basically trying to make better food and beverage choices for themselves to live longer and healthier [so] products fortified with calcium and minerals, or associated with certain health claims like immune health or gut health tend to appeal to this group of consumers.
“One of the main issues that beverages fortified with minerals like calcium or even matcha powder can face is sedimentation, where insoluble particles will sink to the bottom of the drink [and make this] less palatable,” she added.
“[This would be a far cry] from the desired texture and appearance [to] appeal to consumers here in this region.”
Many of these beverages are often plant-based drinks made from bean or nut bases such as soy or oat, but these often face significant taste and mouthfeel challenges.
“There is also a growing demand for plant-based beverages as some consumers face lactose intolerance and are now more aware of it,” Ng said.
“Other factors include environmental concerns over dairy consumption, as well as lifestyle choices for adopting plant-based diets – [but all consumers] expect beverages that meet certain taste, texture and appearance profiles.
“We have a functional blend dubbed MASBLEN that supports fortified drinks to meet the desired characteristics, and is particularly efficient for matcha and/or calcium fortifications.”
Fortification to overcome plant-based fatigue
While it is no secret that the plant-based meat sector has been facing a downturn in APAC, it appears that plant-based dairy is continuing to go from strength to strength due to its strong association with being better-for-you.
‘Plant-based dairy has the advantage [compared to plant-based meat] of transition being relatively easy or even unnecessary for consumers,” plant-based dairy brand noomoo told us.
“Consumers in many Asian countries have been drinking soy or rice milk since young so they are no stranger to plant-based milks [and are now] looking for better-for-you options [instead of substitutes] so the sector is still primed for growth.”
That said, with many such dairy alternative products still holding price tags higher than those of conventional dairy, there needs to be some sort of draw factor to attract consumers.
“The major challenges associated with fortified beverages include instability, sedimentation and poor sensorial mouthfeel – [lacking any of these] can put consumers off,” Ng added.
“As such, it is crucial for brands to choosing the right fortification [nutrient] and pair this with the right [solutions] to provide the sensorial attributes and stability required to make attractive fortified beverages.”