The Future of Food in Asia

Big Picture

Demand for food is outpacing wage growth in Asia, in large part because much of that growth is in disposable income. Consumers across the region are upgrading their lifestyle, seeking greater variety, more novelty, and higher-quality food options. In wealthier markets, greater focus is being given to health and quality whereas consumers in middle- and lower-income markets are moving beyond primarily price-based purchasing decisions and with many open to new brands and less familiar products.

Major Trends

Animal protein and dairy

Demand for animal protein and dairy in Asia is increasing and a prodigious rate with China leading the way. In many Asian countries, demand is outpacing domestic production (with some, such as Singapore and Hong Kong, having little at all) leading to increased imports. Whether offering raw, packaged or processed products, demand will only grow for years to come. Japan, Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong already show strong demand with countries like China, Malaysia, and Indonesia showing high long-term growth potential.

Health foods

Health foods—and beverages—are seeing a surge in demand from consumers across Asia. Whether value, mass market, or premium products, people want higher quality food that will enable them to lead healthier and more fulfilling lives. Top health products include a full range, from dried fruit and nuts to snacks and ready-to-go packaged meals with lower salt, fat, and sugar content and higher overall nutritional value.

Organic, environmentally conscious, and ethically produced

Already popular in North American and European markets—these have only recently gained a toehold in Asia. This is in part because limited incomes put cost and basic nutritional and caloric value above other concerns. With increasing wealth has come greater interest and awareness of how food is sourced, produced, and the impact this has on people and the environment. Demand for such products in Asia-Pacific is expected to grow by over 20% CAGR through 2022 and continue strongly thereafter.

Key Takeaways

These macro-trends in consumer demand and preferences for food in Asia present an attractive opportunity for brands large and small offering healthy options that fit into modern—often urban and convenience-focused—positive lifestyles. Though only just starting to make headway in many Asian markets, brands and products oriented around being environmentally and socially responsible will be well-positioned to match consumer demands long-term.


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