Health food brands look to Asia

15 December 2010

SHANGHAI: Nestlé and PepsiCo are capitalising on local beliefs in the effectiveness of traditional folk medicine in a bid to capitalise on growing health concerns among Asian consumers.

Five of the Swiss food giant's most promising lines are already being tested in China.

In total, Nestlé is to invest $500 million (€370m; £314m) globally over the coming decade on health foods.

One of the company's ongoing clinical trials involves a mulberry yogurt for diabetics that supposedly aids the digestion of glucose.

Other traditional healing ingredients being considered include wolfberry plants, chrysanthemum leaves and tremella, a fungus commonly thought to help improve the skin, strengthen bones and control weight.

Once it has completed the two-year trial period, Nestlé will be free to market its health food to pharmacies and hospitals.

Patrice Bula, chairman of Nestlé China, said: "We believe that Chinese are looking at food for their well-being, and we have an opportunity to play a bigger role in that."

As part of a $2.5 billion (€1.9bn; £1.6bn) expansion into Asia over the next three years, PepsiCo is also looking to traditional medicine to help create a new range of products.

Products already launched by the firm include wolfberry and tremella-flavoured Quaker Herbal Oatmeal, and a range of herbal teas.

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by Warc staff