GlobalData: Plant-based protein alternatives creators in Asia-Pacific are diversifying their products to include baby food, addressing needs of children with lactose intolerance or milk allergies, growing number of vegan and flexitarian parents

Sample article from our Food & Beverage

July 14, 2023 (press release) –

Plant-based protein alternatives makers in the Asia-Pacific are diversifying their product mix to blue oceans, such as baby food. These products address the needs of children who suffer from lactose intolerance or milk allergies, and the growing number of vegan and flexitarian parents. As a result, plant-based products are expected to rapidly make inroads into the estimated $54 billion Malaysian baby food market in the coming years*, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Tim Hill, Key Account Director at GlobalData Singapore, comments: “Unlike in Japan and China, Malaysia’s population is expanding, though the fertility rate has dropped below the required population replacement rate of 2.1%. With over 492,000 total new births in 2022*, Malaysia is a promising market for baby care and childcare products, particularly baby food. Consumer spending on such products is on the rise as parents value quality over price. This is validated by GlobalData’s 2023 consumer survey, wherein 32% of Malaysian respondents connote high-quality products/ingredients with good value for baby care and childcare products, compared to 28% who said the same for low-price/cheap products.**”

Bobby Verghese, Consumer Analyst at GlobalData, notes: “Consumers are also growing concerned about the ingredients used in baby food, particularly about the presence of residual pesticides, antibiotics, and growth hormones from livestock farms in children’s food and snack. Additionally, due to the high prevalence of lactose allergy among Malaysian adults, parents are also concerned about the presence of allergens in baby food. Moreover, a growing number of young Malaysians are adopting vegetarian, vegan, and flexitarian lifestyles for health or environmental/ethical concerns, and want products that align with their diets for their children. This is spurring demand for plant-based milk formula and snacks for toddlers.”

Hill continues: “Several brands of plant-based baby food, such as Miwako, and Smile Organic, are already available in Malaysian stores*. In early 2023, Australian company Sprout Organic also announced plans to debut its plant-based infant formula and snacks for toddlers in Malaysia. These products are described as vegan and cruelty-free offerings that are free from common food allergens, such as dairy, soy, gluten, and nuts. Manufacturers also claim their products are free from genetically modified organisms, artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.”

Verghese concludes: “Besides product safety, plant-based baby food manufacturers need to focus on improving the flavor, aroma, and mouthfeel of products to gain success in Malaysia. GlobalData’s 2023 survey corroborates this, with 70% of Malaysian survey respondents saying that undesirable taste, texture, and smell put them off alternatives (e.g. “free-from”, “low/no”, plant-based, lab-cultivated) for food and drinks for their children**. In contrast, only 22% were put off by the high prices of these products. Moreover, halal certification is a priority for the predominantly Muslim population in Malaysia.”

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

** GlobalData Q1 2023 Consumer Survey­ – Malaysia, with 510 respondents, published in May 2023

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Dan Rivard
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