Can you give an overview of the snacks market in the Southeast Asian region?
Asia is one of the youngest and fastest growing populations in the world and as a result we’re seeing consumer behaviour and population changes—rising incomes, a rising female workforce and busier, more time-tight lifestyles are all driving demand for convenience foods, especially packaged snacks.
Traditionally, pastry, cake and biscuit snacks have dominated Asian supermarket shelves, but a burgeoning middle class with more expendable cash means there is a growing demand for innovative snacks in new formats, such as snack-size biscuits and confectionary.
What are some ingredients/claims that are gaining popularity in the region?
A major trend across Asia at the moment is the stick format popularised by the Pocky brand of Japan for sweet biscuits. This is driving demand for both chocolate coatings, but also more exotic flavour choices like yoghurt or fruits. This is also a trend that looks to be taking off in savoury snacks with a range of new stick crisps and chips across the region.
We can also see a trend towards the localisation of flavours to appeal to local markets, Indonesia’s Leo chip brand for example has introduced a range of exotic flavours such as seaweed or sushi. Similarly the Tango brand of wafers has branched out from chocolate and vanilla into tiramisu, honey dates and even strawberry jam as consumers look for exotic flavour choices.
Snacking seems to be becoming more popular among consumers, especially millennials. What does this mean for food manufacturers?
We're seeing big growth in consumption from millennials in particular, as incomes rise and they become an increasing part of the workforce. We see growth in demand for foods and snacks that are well suited to busy lifestyles—so a big rise in demand for ‘on the go’ and snack size products that fit today’s face pace of life.
Another interesting trend is the emphasis millennials put on food provenance—where food comes from. We see this translating into clean labels that show exactly what the product contains and where it comes from. And there’s evidence to show products which feature clean labels add value to manufacturers as they become higher end products in consumers eyes, and people are willing to pay a little more for transparency.
What does the future of the snack market look like?
We expect the boom in the Asian confectionery market to continue as the purchasing power of Asian millennials grows. Convenience trends are likely to remain important, especially in impulse buys like sweet snacks, biscuits and confectionery.
And, bearing in mind millennials’ growing awareness of sourcing we would expect a greater focus on transparent labelling alongside scrutiny over ingredients from a health perspective. In this regard, palm oil formulations are proving especially popular as they are naturally free from trans fats.
In ASEAN, as individual markets—Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Thailand have major room for growth with per capita consumption of snacks a fraction of that currently seen in Singapore, China or Thailand for example. A major trend across all markets at the moment is smaller package sizes, as a way of encouraging more frequent snacking by making it both convenient and easier to control portions.
We can also see potential in products targeted at teenagers and older children, particularly in emerging markets. This is because parents are often willing to spend on their children before indulging themselves. The sweet spot for these products seems to be those that appeal to younger audiences, without being so targeted as to exclude the adults that may well be purchasing the snack, and could well fancy a bite!