GlobalData: Asian food manufacturers striving to expand portfolio of functional offerings, go beyond soft drinks to sectors such as savory snacks, bakery and cereals; region's fortified/functional bakery and cereals market alone was worth US$2.4B in 2022

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September 22, 2023 (press release) –

The COVID-19 outbreak gave a fillip to functional and fortified foods and beverages such as vitamin drinks that claim to boost immunity against infections. However, with the pandemic waning, manufacturers are turning their attention to other functional attributes beyond immunity boosters. Additionally, Asian food manufacturers are striving to expand their portfolio of functional offerings, going beyond soft drinks to sectors, such as bakery & cereals and savory snacks, as the region’s fortified/functional bakery & cereals market alone was worth $2.4 billion in 2022*, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Tim Hill, Key Account Director at GlobalData Singapore, comments: “Despite the disruption to retail and on-premise distribution due to the pandemic, the demand for immunity-boosting dairy & soyfood surged annually by 20% in 2020. Similarly, vitamin drink brands, such as QminC and Carabao Group’s Woody C+, received a positive reception in Thailand in 2021. This is attributed to consumers seeking various means to stave off infections in the absence of effective medications or vaccines against COVID-19. The demand for vitamins is still strong, with 72% of Asia-Pacific respondents in GlobalData’s Q1 2023 survey** perceiving that products fortified with ingredients, such as vitamins A and C, are positive for their health, a moderate increase over the 70% of APAC respondents who opined similarly in the Q1 2022 survey***.”

Bobby Verghese, Consumer Analyst at GlobalData, notes: “At the same time, with the fear of the virus dissipating, consumer preferences are changing. For instance, people returning to their hectic pre-pandemic lifestyles are seeking food and drinks that boost physical stamina and cognitive alertness, alleviate fatigue and stress, and aid in relaxation and sleep. Asian food and beverage companies are exploring the market with various new functional offerings to tap this trend. Recent notable product innovations in this space include Wyeth Nutrition’s S-26 Gold Pro UHT milk launched in Thailand and PureMed’s Probiotic Mooncake launched in Malaysia.”

Hill adds: “Wyeth Nutrition says that S-26 Gold Pro contains 150% more sphingomyelin, an ingredient that it claims will support brain development, than regular milk. PureMed says that its Probiotic Mooncake is infused with BC30, a heat-stable probiotic that is clinically proven to support digestive and immune health and boost protein absorption. The latter can appeal to 58% of APAC consumers who perceive probiotic ingredients are positive for their health**. Besides providing scientific proof and accreditations for the functional attributes of their products, manufacturers also need to ensure their product safety and indicate its target market.”

Hill concludes: “Functional/fortified products have remained a niche segment in the APAC food and beverage industry due to their above-average prices compared to regular variants. Considering the economic slowdown and inflationary pressures, the demand for such products will remain muted in the immediate future. Manufacturers can overcome this consumer resistance to price hikes by rolling out smaller product pack sizes with pocket-friendly price tags.

“Additionally, functional foods can be positioned as a healthy habit to stay fit in the backdrop of rising healthcare costs. Moreover, manufacturers can leverage trusted local ingredients, reduce sugar/fat/salt in the recipe, and customize products to elevate the perceived value of the product. As inflation eases and consumer purchasing power rises, more households are set to trade up to premium health and functional foods.”

* GlobalData Consumer Intelligence Center ­– Market Analyzers, accessed in September 2023

** GlobalData Q1 2023 Consumer Survey – Asia & Australasia, with 6,226 respondents, published in May 2023

*** GlobalData Q1 2022 Consumer Survey – Asia & Australasia, with 6,585 respondents, published in March 2022

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Dan Rivard
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