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Sustainability drives R&D at Chr. Hansen

Source:Ringier Food

Date Published:2/13/2018 02:02:51 PM

In his article, Sten Estrup, executive vice president, APAC and LATAM at Chr. Hansen shares the company’s views about the Asian market, and how trends in the region’s food and beverage industry is shaping product development in 2018

AT Chr. Hansen, we are constantly looking for ways to help improve health and food through our products and services. As a result, we have launched several new products such as the second generation FreshQ® cultures that extend the life of many more types of fermented milk and fresh cheeses using natural ingredients instead of chemical preservatives.  Such products enable us to help our customers in the beverages, confectionery and snacks industry to meet the consumer demands for natural ingredients. The new products also offer more choices and a wider application range with improved formulation techniques. These recent launches mean that 81% of our turnover meets the UN sustainable development goals of sustainable agriculture; reduce food waste and promote good health – and we are very proud of this.

Sustainability efforts will continue to drive our R&D strategy to generate more innovative products that empower us, as well as our customers, to work towards a healthier and safer world for all. 

Sten Estrup, executive vice president, APAC and LATAM at Chr. Hansen

Sten Estrup, executive vice president, APAC and LATAM at Chr. Hansen

Food safety awareness, rising incomes and changing eating habits

In a survey that was conducted in Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand in 2016, we learned that consumers are generally concerned about their health. Over 50% of those surveyed said they would choose healthier food to maintain their well-being.

The prevalence of social media in Asia has served to increase awareness of food safety, and the rising income level has also given consumers greater access to healthier food alternatives. We see more customer demanding cleaner labels and healthier food across South East Asia and China.

The Asian food and beverage industry is likely to see the following trends develop further in 2018:

Low sugar. With the world focusing on obesity and diabetes, sugar reduction is in the spotlight. This perception is supported by the increasing link between sugar consumption, obesity and other diet-related diseases.  Confronting this issue is especially important, because sugar is plentiful in the food and drinks targeted at children. The economic effects on health costs cannot be ignored, and governments in Asia are considering imposing sugar tax and strict limits on sugar in food and drinks. A number of key beverage companies are opting to replace the sugar with sugar substitutes. We expect to see more companies working to reduce or replace sugar in their products.

At Chr. Hansen, we help our customers to reduce the amount of added sugar used in their dairy products without sacrificing the taste or sweetness naturally through the use of NOLA® Fit and our newest yoghurt cultures. This makes it possible to make great tasting yoghurt with less added sugar to meet the demands of modern Asian consumers.

Flexible meal times and the rise of snacking. Eating habits have also undergone changes driven by the millennials. As Euromonitor reported last year, traditionally fixed meal times are now replaced by flexible eating and eating on the go. Snacking has also correspondingly increased and the demand for healthier snacks has also grown. Mintel research reveals that six in 10 consumers in China associate a healthy snack with ‘all-natural’, while 42 per cent associate it with ‘fortified with additional nutrients’.

We are likely to see food being repackaged to tap into the snacking trend as well as inclusion of healthier ingredients such as natural color into ready-to-eat food as well as ready-to-drink beverages.

A taste for the unique. Widely travelled and quick to adapt to new experiences, the consumer of today is one that is willing to experiment with new ideas in food and beverages.   As Forbes recently reported, consumers capture brand experiences as a form of experiential currency. We will likely see more unique flavors and functional food and beverages cropping up as the millennial consumers seek what is new and different.

The continued growth of the thick and creamy Greek yogurt is an example of the openness of the Asian consumers to try new food categories.

Let there be cheese. Increased familiarization is expected to drive greater consumption of cheese in Asia according to International Dairy Federation in 2016. Brands in Asia are launching cheeses focused on children and tapping on the snacking trend by giving cheese a make-over as a healthier snack alternative, according to Mintel’s 2017 insight study. 

There is potential for the cheese market in Asia and in particular, China. China’s national consumption per capita currently is only 20 grams, almost negligible, but cheese consumption is expected to increase by 20% annually, according to Research and Markets in 2017. The greatest demand for cheese is in the processing and catering business sectors, as appetites for Western inspired cuisine increases.

We have recently expanded our range of natural cheese cultures so manufacturers can make different tasting cheeses using the same production lines.  

Sustainability driving food innovations. Food waste in Asia is becoming an issue that cannot be ignored. According to World Resources Institute, Industrialized Asia contributed 28% to the total food waste, while South East Asia contributed 21%. In China alone, food waste amounts to 40 million tonnes a year and it is estimated that over half of the food waste produced occurs during distribution, handing and storage.  Solutions such as our natural FreshQ® cultures extend the shelf life of yogurt and fresh cheeses without adding artificial preservatives, in turn helping to reduce waste due to poor storage and an early expiry date.

In another 2016 study by Electrolux, 80% of households in Asia Pacific regularly wastes food at home. 25% cited the lack of portion size control as a contributing factor for throwing away left over food.  Eating alone has become more commonplace according to a Euromonitor study and with family size shrinking, smaller food portioning is becoming more popular.

Food manufacturers and businesses are beginning to realize that sustainable solutions are not added costs, but are avenues to greater operational efficiency, reduced waste and business opportunities. This is an area where we are likely to see companies becoming more innovative and creative as customers push for sustainable solutions as their environmental awareness grow.

Science, application and insights matter

The food and beverage marketplace in Asia will be interesting and at the same time challenging as companies scramble to meet the rising and sometimes fickle expectations from consumers. Our customers can be confident that at Chr. Hansen, we do not just focus on the science behind our natural solutions. We ensure that we provide to our customers the technical application expertise as well as local insights to support them in meeting the increased demands from consumers for natural, safe, tasty and healthy ingredients.

 

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