Demand for natural ingredients in SEA

Demand for natural ingredients growing in Asia

Asia’s consumers are increasingly demanding ‘clean and green’ when it comes to new F&B products and their ingredients.

While the concept of ‘natural’ products can mean many things to many people, we are seeing some clear trends across the region that are being driven by consumers.

Clean label driving consumer demand

The first is clean label – the notion that products should be free from artificial ingredients and additives, while having as short an ingredient list as possible.

According to MMR research, 80% of consumers feel that a short and simple ingredient list is important. They discovered that, in Asia Pacific, packaging claims relating to ‘no additives’ or ‘no artificial ingredients’ are quite or very important to an average of 70% of consumers.

Likewise, market research company Euromonitor says that ‘healthy living’ is the dominant food and beverage megatrend globally, with ‘back to nature and naturally functional’ products finding favour with consumers.

“Healthy living is at the top of the food pyramid, impacting almost all categories and geographies in food and premiumization is paramount across all regions, primarily impacting snacks,” said Pinar Hosafci, head of packaged food research at Euromonitor.

Natural colours leading growth

Indeed, snack market growth is forecast to outpace many other sectors in Asia Pacific in the coming years, opening up considerable opportunities for brands to meet consumer demands for convenient, yet nutritious, on-the-go items, especially for busy millennials.

Demand for healthier and more natural products is also leading to considerable growth in the ingredient space, with the natural food colours market in Asia-Pacific experiencing robust growth of 7.7% last year - higher than the global average of 6.6%.

The confectionery and bakery sectors are said to be driving much of the increase, thanks to the arrival of new product formulations that help create cleaner and shelf-stable products. In terms of pigments, clean and green spirulina saw the biggest increase of 11%.

On a broader level, here are three more ingredients that look set to boom thanks to growing interest in health and naturalness.

Hemp: According to Mintel, hemp is emerging as a clean label plant protein ingredient that could thrive in plant-based, free-from and high protein innovations.

Matcha: Following on from the success of spirulina and turmeric, matcha looks set to be the latest power-powder, with the ingredient being incorporated into everything from smoothies to biscuits.

Flower power: Ingredients derived from lavender, hibiscus and elderflower are driving a wave of plant-based innovation across the beverage sector.