A Closer Look at Asia’s Growing Food Demand
Overview of Key Markets
As disposable income among Chinese consumers rises, more people are looking for healthier, higher-quality food options. The demand for healthy packaged meals is rapidly increasing, but most domestic businesses have yet to respond. Similarly, demand for fresh and organic foods is rapidly rising; organic food sales have increased by more than 60% since 2011. Overall, more food transactions are taking place online, and more foreign brands are being sold, with the epidemic hastening this trend.
Taiwanese customers, like those in many other high-income economies, are becoming more health conscious and less price sensitive. Demand is shifting in favor of well-known overseas brands, higher quality, lesser sugar, and a willingness to try something new or different. Young people, in particular, are looking for meals and brands that fit their ideal lifestyle.
Hong Kong & Macau
Hong Kong and Macau consumers, who are modern, fast-paced, and well-off, seek high-quality products and brands that promote a healthy and active lifestyle. Despite being more mature markets, per capita expenditure, as well as familiarity and interest in new products, particularly imported goods, remains strong.
Consumers in Singapore, like those in Hong Kong and Macau, are willing to pay a premium for high-quality food. Singaporeans are discerning, and they will not be satisfied with flashy branding if the product does not give quality and nutritional value. As a result, demand for organic and other health-related products is rapidly rising. Similarly, it must be compatible with the fast-paced metropolitan lifestyle.
Malaysian customers are young, and when their incomes improve, they want food goods and brands that reflect their socioeconomic goals. This entails greater quality, more unique products, and the use of imported brands. Consumers are a mix of individuals searching for a good deal and those who prioritize quality over price. In Malaysia, food manufacturers that can capitalize on either of these trends would perform well.
Indonesia’s average age, like Malaysia’s, is quite young, with the majority of people still in their ‘peak spending years.’ Despite the fact that typical disposable income remains low, spending on food products is rising across the board. Those that have the means are willing to spend for quality, whereas others are looking for value for their money. This creates an opportunity for imported companies to meet rising and shifting local demand.
Japan is Asia’s second-largest food market. Because of its aging population, traditional brick-and-mortar sales channels account for the majority of sales, however online sales are strong and expanding. Consumers in Japan prefer well-known and dependable brands that give the high quality that they have grown to expect. Younger consumers, on the other hand, are more likely to seek out novel and foreign goods and brands, and are prepared to spend a large percentage of their discretionary income on items that support their positive and modern lifestyle.
Big brands and fast-moving food products are still the norm of the day, just like they are in Japan. However, there is a shift away from sugary or nutritionally deficient food, particularly among younger customers in metropolitan cities like Seoul. Brands must reflect consumers’ desired self-image and lifestyle, in addition to quality and health. It follows a broader trend among Asia’s most urbanized areas, such as Hong Kong and Singapore, in this regard.
The demand for animal protein and dairy in Asia is skyrocketing, with China leading the way. Demand in several Asian countries is surpassing domestic output, resulting in higher imports. In 2020, China’s beef, pork, lamb/mutton, and poultry imports totaled 6 million tons. Importing meat goods is normal in places with minimal domestic production to begin with, such as Singapore, Hong Kong, and Macau, and it’s a natural opportunity for overseas businesses. Whether you sell raw, packaged, or processed goods, demand will continue to rise in the coming years.
Organic, environmentally conscious, and ethically made products have just lately acquired traction in Asia, despite their popularity in North America and Europe. This is partly due to low salaries, which prioritize cost and basic nutritional and caloric value over other considerations. As people’s income has grown, so has their interest in and understanding of how food is sourced, produced, and the impact it has on people and the environment.
Consumers in Asia are increasingly interested in health meals and beverages. People desire higher quality food, whether it’s low-cost, mass-market, or premium, to help them live healthier and more fulfilled lives. Top health items range from dried fruit and nuts to snacks and ready-to-eat packaged meals that are reduced in salt, fat, and sugar and greater in overall nutritional value. For many, this goes hand-in-hand with efforts to combat obesity (41% of people in Asia-Pacific are overweight or obese), heart disease, and other maladies that have accompanied economic progress, increased income, and urbanization.
In Asia, food demand is surpassing wage growth, owing to the fact that much of that growth is in disposable income.
Consumers all around the region are updating their lifestyles by looking for more variety, novelty, and higher-quality food options. Customers in wealthier markets place a larger emphasis on health and quality, but consumers in middle- and lower-income areas are shifting away from price-based purchase decisions, with many willing to try new brands and products.
This creates a compelling opportunity for both large and small businesses to provide healthy solutions that fit with today’s positive lives, which are often urban and convenience-oriented. While environmental and socially responsible businesses and goods are still making inroads in many Asian markets, they will be well-positioned to meet consumer needs in the long run.