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Macro trends boosting food innovation in Asia

Source:Food Bev Asia

Date Published:5/2/2019 02:05:03 PM

Senior foods, healthy foods based on probiotic and protein technology, as well fermented foods are megatrends set to dominate food innovation in Asia, says YONGJING LI, Ph.D., Regional President Asia Pacific. DuPont Nutrition & Health.

In the past decade, the world has transformed significantly, witnessing a constant change, especially in Asia, which is home to the world’s largest aging population.

Three mega trends, including senior foods, healthy foods based on probiotic and protein technology, along with fermented foods will dominate the food innovation in Asian region.

According to Euromonitor, more than half of the world’s population will be living in Asia in 2030. Food addressing health and wellness concerns of an ageing population will be well-developed. According to New Nutrition Business, Digestive health, plant-based and proteins are on the top list of trends for food, nutrition and health1. Food and beverages launches with fermented claims had shown remarkable growth at 29% CAGR, according to Innova Market Insights2. Common local fermented foods bring not only traditional sensory experience but also confer some health benefits especially when combined with probiotics. New opportunities of fermented foods can also be found in non-dairy and non-traditional food and beverage applications.

Developing innovative foods to cope with an ageing population

Age-associated health issues have become more evident due to an increased group of discerning health conscious population, accompanied with lifestyle changes due to rapid industrialization and urbanization. Seniors face various health risks and challenges such as associated weakened health condition and body function with the aging process.

Food and beverage solutions catering to the senior segment are in high demand, to address specific dietary needs. Consumers are looking for innovative solutions to address precise needs in this category to deliver food applications in softer texture, improved nutrition, better taste, smaller portion, and convenient consumption formats et cetera.

Nutrient-dense foods for the aged in different formats delivering various functions have been developed in Japan in recent years, such as pumpkin puree containing probiotics, yogurt for seniors, ready-to-eat porridge, amino acid drink that helps maintain muscles and improves walking ability et cetera. These products aim to improve physical fitness, cognition, digestive health and dining experience of the elderly, and are becoming more popular in Asian countries.

Maruha Nichiro Medicare Shokuhin (Japan) -small portion & high energy food  (Source: MINTEL)

Ajinomoto Amino Acid Ale (Japan) -amino acid drink (Source: MINTEL)

Probiotics, plant-based and proteins are the preferred choices for healthy nutritious foods

Based on published research, probiotics and fermented foods will continue to remain in high demand in the coming years, and digestive health will maintain its position in the top 10 trends for next several years. According to Technavio's report, global probiotic beverages are on the rise. By 2020, the Asia-Pacific region has the largest market share of 39.95%, compared to the Americas market share of 26.18%, and the European market share of 30.17%3.

Healthy foods, especially those based on microbiome technology and probiotics, are gaining more popularity. Substantiated by strong science, probiotics can make remarkable differentiations to food and beverage product applications, delivering proven health benefits. Increasing consumer awareness and product innovation give a further boost to this market.

Some examples of the health benefits that probiotics can deliver include digestive health, immune health, oral health, skin health, woman health, cognitive health, weight control, sports endurance, and cardiovascular health.  DuPont has one of the world's leading microbial biotechnology, as well as nutrition and health science. For example, DuPont CARE4U™ human milk oligosaccharide (HMO) can be used in infant formula and dietary supplements, with potential applications in digestive and immune health.

Plant-based and protein foods will also become the focus of food technology development. Plant proteins from different sources such as soybeans and peas will bring differentiated nutrient protein foods.

NUTRILITE® All Plant Protein Powder (India) -Soy, wheat and yellow pea proteins (Source: Mintel)

Linwood Hemp Protein+ Plant Protein Blends(UK) -hemp, pea, pumpkin and flaxseed proteins (Source: MINTEL)

While plant foods are entering the mainstream consumer sector, the consumption of plant proteins has grown exponentially over the past few years, while plant proteins are widely used in food and beverages. However, plant proteins from different sources are very different. Several key factors such as flavor and functionality, supply availability, cost, consistency, protein quality and proven nutrition benefits, brought challenges to the application of plant proteins. DuPont is a global leader in plant proteins with more than 50 years of experience in providing quality protein products and an extensive product range, to meet the needs of different nutritional formulas and vegetable protein foods of different textures.

Fermented food brings flavor and health benefits

Throughout history, human civilizations across the globe have benefited in many ways from development of fermented foods and beverages. Ferments are amongst the oldest and most important foods. Fermentation of wide range of meats, vegetables and fruits, and dairy foods present novel flavors and textures, satisfying consumer demand for natural products. Fermentation also imparts a better taste profile and brings out some amazing health benefits in the food and beverages we eat.

Fermented foods, such as bread, cheese, yogurt, beer, wine, salami and so on, have a long history and are ubiquitous. Food and beverages with fermentation claims are growing, and digestion and immune health are the focus of claims of new launched products. Fermentation not only brings better taste and appearance, but also brings many benefits, such as hydrolyzing protein to form easily absorbed peptides, producing vitamin B, producing organic acids that inhibit harmful bacteria, and fermentation of probiotics brings about various health benefits such as digestive health, skin health, immune health and oral health.

Health-Ade Kombucha (USA) -popular sparkling beverage fermented by bacteria and yeast (Source: MINTEL)

Kevita Sparkling Probiotic Drink (USA) -fermented by kefir and containing 4 probiotic strains (Source: MINTEL)

In addition to the familiar dairy products, new applications for fermentation in food can be found in both non-daily and non-traditional fields, including fermented tea drink, probiotic fermented juice, fermented plant protein milk, fermented mixed juice, and fermented pickles et cetera. It is worth mentioning that in recent years, Kombucha has become popular in the US. Kombucha is a fermented tea drink fermented by yeast and acetic acid bacteria. It is similar to the traditional home-made red tea fungus drink. The product contains a little alcohol and is sparkling, with a refreshing and unique taste. Another example is Kevita's sparkling probiotic drink, which is fermented by Kefir culture and contains 4 billion live probiotics of 4 strains.

Food plays a key role in health and wellness. The world will need to rethink its approach to food and its future as the population grows and age. There will be different approaches, but one thing is clear: it takes close collaborations and private-public partnerships to organize efforts and provide solutions that will address these macro trends for our consumers.


110 Key Trends in Food, Nutrition & Health 2018, New Nutrition Business

2 Innova Food and Beverage Innovation, Volume 14, Jul. 2016, Innova Market Insights

3 Global Probiotic Drinks Market 2016-2020, Technavio




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