Food & Beverage Asia Apr/May 2020

H ealth consciousness sees no signs of slowing down in Asia-Pacific. Analysts have forecasted the Asia-Pacific functional food ingredients market to grow at a CAGR of 5-9%between 2016 and 2026, signifying that health foods are gaining momentum across the region 1 . Specifically, a recent study revealed that low-sugar and high-protein were amongst the top five healthy diets that consumers were seeking. At the time of the study, 35% of the respondents were already on a low-sugar diet and 24% were already on a high-protein diet – both of which being significantly higher figures than the global results of 19% and 8% respectively 2,3 . Further respondents also indicated wanting to change to a healthy diet in the future, with 26%considering a low-sugar diet and 16% considering a high-protein diet 2 . Reducing sugar is a growing need for a majority of Asia-Pacific consumers. They are either very concerned about their sugar consumption or have been consciously trying to avoid sugar 4 . In addition to reasons such asmaintaining good health or watching their weight, awareness on the prevalence of diabetes has also generated a greater demand for low-sugar food options 2 . In 2019, approximately 463 million adults were living with diabetes globally, and this number is projected to rise to an alarming 700 million by 2045 5 . Consumers choose high-protein diets as they associate them with helping to build muscle, maintain good health, and address weight concerns amongst other reasons 2 . Consumers are embracing dairy alternatives The rising focus on health is one of the key drivers for the popularity of the dairy alternative market in Asia-Pacific 6 . Valued at US$18.3 billion globally in 2019, dairy alternatives was one of the most dynamic categories among drinking milk products in terms of growth 7 . Importantly, Asia-Pacific leads the global market with 63.5% value share, worth $11.6 billion 8 . In terms of new product launches, dairy alternative beverages have been leading the segment in Asia-Pacific, growing at a CAGR of 16% between 2015 and 2019 9 . Ingredion’s study in 2019 also revealed that one in two are dairy alternative consumers – with dairy alternative beverages leading consumer preferences at 79%, non-dairy yoghurt at 43% and non-dairy cheeses at 28% 2 . In addition to health, indulgence is also likely to help drive value growth in the dairy alternative market 6 . Product innovations such as ingredients blends, pairing of superfoods such as antioxidants, and formulation advancements in flavours garner the category a premium positioning and pricing. Consumers are open to plant-based proteins Dairy alternatives have evolved over the years going from soy-based to nut-based to using novel plant-based ingredients like pulses. These new ingredients are expected to boost interest and bring variety to the category – particularly those high in protein. Given that Asia-Pacific consumers have long been familiar with dairy alternatives, new product innovations in this spaces are set to bring dynamic growth to the category. Consumers are highly receptive towards plant-based proteins in dairy alternative products, and consider pulse-based protein sources – such as chickpea, pea, lentil and broad beans – as nutritious, natural and high-quality 2 . In essence, pulses are powerhouses that can boost the nutritional profile of dairy alternative formulations. Lead the dairy alternative market with a plant-based approach By Chris Weng , Regional Platform Leader, Plant-based Proteins, Asia-Pacific, Ingredion; and Chloe Gao , Sensory and Segment Manager, Asia-Pacific, Ingredion INGREDIENTS 36 FOOD & BEVERAGE ASIA APRIL / MAY 2020 New product innovations in the dairy alternative space are set to bring growth to the category (Photo credit: Adobe Stock)

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