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Fi Asia 2017: Going natural, healthy, and innovative

Source:Ringier Food

Date Published:9/18/2017 05:09:00 PM

Products and solutions are focused on consumer trends that favor health, nutrition, and flavorful products 

IT TAKES years to develop ingredients that comply with health standards, meet consumer preferences, and compete with many similar products. On the customer side, choosing the right solution from the many trusted names on the market can take some time. But one thing is clear in the South East Asian food and beverage market – companies are now taking industry trends more seriously than ever. Surveys conducted by market research firms and suppliers themselves show that around half of surveyed consumers truly desire healthier products. In a region that is both seeing a rise in the aging population and experiencing the strong influence of Millennials, the opportunities call for health products and nutritious food and beverages. Therefore, at Fi Asia, this year was no different from the previous ones which continued to dwell on the importance of clean labeling, natural ingredients and their processing, as well as sugar and fat reduction.

Many manufacturers exhibiting at Fi Asia from September 13-15 in BITEC, Bangkok are confident their products and solutions align with the expectations of the growing Southeast Asian market.

According to Mintel vegetarian claims in SEA grew 140% between 2012 and 2016, while vegan claims grew by 440%.

Reduced sugar – a big trend in Thailand

With 16 million classified as obese in Thailand, the government is more and more determined to cut sugar from beverages especially carbonated drinks. This month, the Thai Finance Ministry will impose a new excise tax law on beverages – less sugar per 100ml than the Ministry’s threshold will be charged a lower excise tax than those for drinks with higher sugar content. The tax rate will be introduced anytime this week.

The answer to this has been highlighted at Fi Asia by companies like PureCircle, which has developed stevia antioxidants which add flavor and sweetness to food and beverage. Most recently it has launched the SigmaXcelerator (SM) product development tool to help customers obtain the ideal combinations of steviol glycosides for a particular food or beverage.

Ingredion’s SweetisTM sweetener series is among the company’s many solutions for manufacturers seeking to reduce calories but maintain the right sweetness in their products. According to Rishan Pillay, vice president and general manager, ASEANI, Ingredion will be focusing on sugar reduction in 2018.

Tate& Lyle has a portfolio of sweeteners which includes KRYSTAR® introduced in 2016 as well as Sweetesse SteviaTM 97 which together can provide a full sugar taste. The company’s Fructopure® is an alternative to sucrose and masks the aftertaste of certain natural sweeteners. The Purefruit monk fruit extract® has 200 times the sweetness of sugar, and has no bitter aftertaste.

In addition to developing healthier sweetener products, the company supports health and nutrition among the young through the “Healthy Eating, Healthy Living” program for school children in China.

Ueno Fine Chemicals Indutry, with factory in Thailand, is promoting its Sorbitol and Maltitol sweeteners said to have provide not only sweetness but texture, and moisture, to products like confectionery.

Evonik, a specialty chemical company based in Germany, presented its Risumalt® isomalt that provides the bulk and texture benefits of sucrose in sugar-free products. It offers 50% less calories compared to sugar and with a low GI, is suitable for diabetics. The sugar substitute is ideal for candy, gum, and bakery goods.

Products for good health

One of the focused themes in the show was on the health and nutrition needs of the elderly. The conference Natural Functional Ingredients: An Innovative Solution for Healthcare in Aging Society, consisted of experts speaking on products such as vegetable and plant-based foods, natural bioactives, and other functional ingredients as part of nutrition.

Oryza Oil & Fat Chemical and DKSH have harnessed the active ingredients in black ginger, specifically for the elderly.

Functional ingredients like prebiotics/probiotics have become even more prominent on the health and nutrition market as new research support their positive effects on health.

A leading name in probiotics, Ganeden has promoted GanedenBC30® (Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086) for quite some time, with ongoing research supporting the claim for gut and immune health.  Steve Quinn, business and regulatory director for Asia at Ganeden, was at Fi Asia to share the benefits of Staimune™, the new ingredient which uses the inactivated cells of GanedenBC30 to support immune health.

QHT, a leading company in prebiotic technology participated in Fi Asia as it plans to expand further outside the China market. The company has led advances in prebiotics research, even developing FOS national standard samples. It is now targeting ASEAN markets for products such as prebiotics derived from milk (resembling breast milk) and prebiotics from plants.

The use of herbs and spices have always been associated with health advantages. For instance, applications for turmeric has expanded into food and supplements. Arjuna, a family-owned business in India participated in Fi Asia for the first time to introduce its botanicals, nutraceuticals, and pharmaceuticals. The company produces BCM-95 bioactive curcumin, and is the only manufacturer in India of sustainable Omega-3 (90% Omega). The company has also entered into the food and beverage space, offering clean-label natural preservatives.

Also from India, Apollo Ingredients is taking advantage of the active ingredient in turmeric (curcumin), offering the market with turmeric extract (95% curcumin).

Plants as sustainable sources of healthy ingredients

Therefore plant-based ingredients continue to gain traction. Alternatives to meat and dairy milk such as those that come from nuts and grains have shown remarkable success on the market.  It’s no surprise that this year they are center stage at Fi Asia. 

ADM highlighted the features and functions of its soy protein Clarisoy® which is ideal in coffee creamer and beverages.

Lentein is another protein source that is getting some attention, with US-based company Parabel introducing it to visitors of previous Fi Asia editions.

AAK will also be investing further in plant-based dairy alternatives, and will make this segment a particular focus for the next three years, through co-development process. At Fi Asia this year, the company is focused on dairy solutions and food service related products, according to Michael Skriver, regional director, SEA. One of the trends catching on in Asia is production and consumption of dairy-fat free products like cheese, beverage, and ice cream, he said. To help customer in the region innovate and speed up time to market, AAK is opening a innovation center in Singapore in 2018 to be led by Mr Skriver.

Flavorings, seasonings, preservatives

The food and beverage industry would be at a loss without developments in flavors, texturizers, stabilizers, preservatives, and other ingredients.

Ricca Peacock offers natural flavors and micro-encapsulated powders such as Wasabi and other regional flavors, while Evesa (Extraction Vegetables SA) has presented spices and herb extracts including liquid form Paprika Oleoresin.

Pandan, unique to the ASEAN palate, is a major product of Inthaco Co. Another company, Matrix has a range of heat-resistant natural flavors from fruits and vegetables.

Naturex also showcased its expertise in plant-based food preservatives as an effective alternative to artificial ingredients, saying that these products have no effect on the taste of foods.

Clean label all the way

Trends that we are very familiar with are here to stay. Consumers still expect new products like coloring and flavoring to pass clean labeling requirements, that is, to be free from additives and preservatives, and to some extent be non-GMO.

GNT, which prides itself to be the leader in the natural coloring foods arena, is now offering an even wider range of colors derived from fruit, vegetable, and plants. The company promoted the Exberry® natural solutions at Fi Asia. Introducing the company, its products, and process, Victor Foo, general manager of GNT in Singapore emphasized the company’s vertical capability as well as sustainable production.

Consumers also expect suppliers and manufacturers to be transparent about their ingredients, processing and final products.

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