Asian consumers and healthy eating

Asians Much More Interested in Eating Healthy Than Westerners – “The East-West nutrition divide” Survey

In an online survey commissioned by Ingredient Communications PR agency in 2016, researchers asked 600 consumers in Asia and 700 in the Western hemisphere, Australia and New Zealand included, about their views on a slew of dietary issues. Nearly seven in 10 of the Asian consumers surveyed (68%) said they were ‘very interested’ in nutrition and healthy eating, compared with just 38% of westerners.

Levels of interest in nutrition were highest in India, where 82% said they were very interested in healthy eating, and in the Philippines (71%). But in some western countries interest in a healthy diet was low. Only 36% of respondents in the UK and 26% in Australia said they were very interested in nutrition and healthy eating, although in the US the figure was as high as 71%.

The findings highlight the extent to which views about diet and health differ between east and west. For example, two in five (39%) respondents in Asia considered eating less meat to be important to achieving a healthy diet. But only 25% of westerners felt the same way. Accordingly, a vegetarian or vegan health claim is nearly three times more likely to influence a consumer to buy a product in Asia than it is a consumer in the west (28% vs 10%, respectively).

Asia: Tipping the Scales on Health and Wellness – A Nielsen Study

As Asia is on the cusp of an obesity epidemic and general health and wellness over the coming years is on a concerning trajectory, a recent study undertaken by Nielsen shows that nearly one in two Asian consumers (46%) think they are overweight. Asian consumers are seeking out greater visibility of product ingredients and want more information on product labels to make healthier food choices. Many consumers (66%) say they are prepared to pay more for products that do not contain undesirable ingredients, and 81% will buy local and natural alternatives where possible.

In most Asian countries, food preparation has transformed with traditional fresh whole food preparation techniques being replaced by heavily processed foods, many of which are high in processed fats and sugars. With obesity levels and the prevalence of chronic disease on the rise around the world, there is increasing questions around the role of processed food and the impact it is having on health.

As consumers become more aware of the consequences of the food choices they make, they are paying more attention to food labels. Almost three in five Asian consumers say they carefully read the nutritional labels on products. Nutritional labelling has come a long way in recent years, with many countries requiring product specifics to be included on packaged foods. But what is deemed “mandatory” versus what is simply “recommended” varies significantly by country, which makes implementation difficult to achieve and places a significant burden on cross border marketing.

Consumer scepticism and demand for authenticity from brands has never been higher. Across Asia, more than half of consumers (56%) believe health claims are just a way for food and beverage companies to charge more for their products.

Consumer preferences are changing. Nielsen’s recent Global Ingredient and Dining-Out Report revealed that consumers across Asia want access to more natural, organic, fat free products on shelf than are available today. Some companies are moving beyond traditional food manufacturing and exploring offerings that can be used as an alternative to or alongside medication. There is already growing support for this movement, with close to two-thirds of Asian consumers (64%) agreeing superfoods provide a natural way to prevent and treat ailments.

Some brands are also looking to redefine themselves and are investing heavily in health science. Others are looking at functional foods that appeal to consumer segments, such as a new range of products designed specifically for cancer patients. These examples highlight the evolution of food beyond where it is today, as well as the opportunities for manufacturers in the future.

Sustainable Foods Summit Singapore – 28-30th November 2017

For the first time in Asia, an executive summit will focus on eco-labels and sustainability in the food industry. Hosted in Singapore on 28-30th November 2017, the premier Asia Pacific edition of the Sustainable Foods Summit will feature organic market potential, food fraud & authenticity, food ingredients, and marketing best-practices.

The summit begins with a first session on sustainability developments; with agriculture and food production linked to many of the environmental & social issues faced by the planet, how can Asian food and ingredient firms make a sustainable difference?

The Organic Market Potential session will discuss approaches to encourage organic food production and consumption. Although Asia houses 60 % of the global population and has some of the richest consumers, its share of the global organic food market is less than 10 %.

On the 2nd day, a session on Health Impacts will analyse the nutritional transformation whereby many sectors of the population in Asia are now starting to suffer from diet related illnesses, such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. With sustainability intricately linked to healthy living, this session looks at various approaches to improve the health impacts of food products.

The final session on Ingredients for Sustainability will finally look at how a growing number of food and beverage companies are looking to ingredients to add sustainable value to their products.

A post-conference workshop on Food Fraud and Authenticity will take place on the last day on 30th November. Designed to help companies mitigate food fraud risks and provide greater controls and traceability in their supply chains, the workshop begins with an introduction to the various types of food fraud and reviews existing control methods and measures to improve traceability.

More information is available from www.sustainablefoodssummit.comPlease note that CSR Asia members will receive a 30% discount.


1/ Nielsen Insights: “Asia: Tipping the scales on health and wellness”

2/ Sustainable Foods Summit Singapore