The health and wellness trend has been on the rise in the food and beverage sector over the past few years, and has accelerated even more since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
Moving into 2023, industry experts are confident that this trend will continue to guide consumer purchasing decisions, with a particular focus on clean label and positive nutrition claims attracting significant interest especially in large markets.
“A recent survey showed that nearly 60% of consumers in Asia place a significant import on clean label products, saying this has a fair to a significant impact on their purchasing decisions,”Nicole Jansen, Innova Markets Team Manager, Insights and Innovation, said at the recent Fi Asia-Vitafoods event in Bangkok, Thailand.
Within this, the fastest growing claims on clean labels in the region are claims that the product is natural (11%), that there are no additives or preservatives added (9%) and that it is GMO-free (5%).
“This is particularly important in large markets in Asia where we also found that consumers in these markets were the most likely to check product labels, i.e. India (77%), Indonesia (69%) and China (69%) all showed scores above the global average. The adult is 58%.
“The clean label trend has evolved somewhat over the past few years, moving from initial requirements that are natural and additive-free to simple processing as well, with a short ingredient list, providing transparency in the supply chain and also being ethical in its production – and it is likely that This will continue into the near future.”
In addition to the clean label, Jansen added that claims of positive nutrition, or so-called “reductive,” meaning reduction of “bad things” like sugar, fat, and salt, will also be very important when it comes to guiding consumer purchasing decisions.
“Consumers want products that are low in ingredients they consider unhealthy, and these can range from sugar to salt to fat to gluten – 20% of consumers in Asia list this as a top priority in choosing healthy foods and drinks.”She said.
“We also found that sugar reduction ranked first in the minds of most consumers at -41%, followed by fat reduction by -39% and salt reduction by -31%, and overall, about 30% of all consumers in the region reduced their consumption of these ingredients.
“Food companies in the region are already starting to pay attention, and this can be seen by the recent launch of new products – in general, about 20% of all new food and beverage products in the Asia Pacific region focus on reduction claims, for example, there were 17% An additional group of products made claims to lower sugar, 12% of products contained claims of low/no/low sodium, and 16% of products contained claims of reduced fat.”
Jansen also believes that all this focus on health and wellness bodes well for one category in particular, which are plant-based products.
“Products with plant-based claims have grown by a staggering 73% between 2017 and 2022 across various markets in the Asia Pacific region, and each of these on-the-ground field surveys has identified that while this market is not quite as strong, Yet, the growth is still going strong, so that’s still a major trend here.”She said.
“Health and wellness are the main drivers of the sector, and we believe that as it develops it will soon branch out into a standalone sector.”
More focus in the future
Over the next 12 months, Asia Pacific consumers are likely to focus more on food and beverage products for health and wellness, so Jansen believes the outlook for this sector is very positive.
“Another survey of consumers in Asia revealed that 71% intend to increase spending on their health and well-being over the next 12 months,”She said.
“So health will remain high on the agenda, and that will lead to more market growth and innovation.
“One of the main developments expected from this is the current ‘health versus indulgence’ debate finding a great place for all this innovation – 50% of all consumers have stated that they would choose the healthiest alternative when looking for an indulgent treat, and we see the innovation in terms of adding Health claims to indulgent foods or adding indulgence claims to healthy foods will be key to the development of this sector.”
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