Consumers across APAC are increasingly adopting products and services that offer a higher level of convenience, a trend that has since accelerated thanks to COVID-19, according to a new report from Mintel.

Michelle Teodoro, associate director, Mintel Food & Drink and Food Science, APAC said: “Consumers are looking for greater convenience and the pandemic has prompted them to pay greater attention to their health and wellness and to seek ways to protect their health for the long term through their diet. These have resulted in an unexpected string of events that have amended and amplified the development of the global food and drink industry.”

Mintel’s APAC Food and Drink Landscape report highlighted a few key trends across key APAC markets:

Convenience-driven culture

Globally, consumer interest in air fryers increased during the COVID-19 period as people cook and bake more at home amid the coronavirus pandemic. According to Mintel's Global New Products Database (GNPD), the launches of food products globally with the description of 'air fryer' saw a five-fold rise between June 2017 and May 2020, driven by South Korea. While 42% of Thai consumers who cook at home choose easy to prepare as the most important factor when cooking/preparing their daily meal.

In January, when China was hit hard by COVID-19 and went into lockdown, sales of self-heating foods surged. According to Taobao, China's largest online retailer, the category experienced the second-highest growth and the sales of self-heating rice alone grew by 257%.

Despite its price point being higher than other instant foods such as noodles, Chinese consumers have embraced the format. The market value of self-heating foods is estimated to double, growing from 3.7 billion RMB (US$563.1m) in 2018 to 7.1 billion RMB (US$1.03bn) in 2019.

Health-conscious India

According to Mintel GNPD, over the last two years up to June 2020, only 3% of India product launches hold a brain and nervous system claim, while just 1% of launches have stress/sleep claim.

The persistence of COVID-19 in the Indian market has exposed critical truths related to health and wellness and put a spotlight on how consumers’ dietary and lifestyle choices matter. Mintel’s Global COVID-19 Tracker showcases consumers’ focus on preventive health and mindful eating, indicating the potential for disruption in the food and drink space.

  • 93% of Indian consumers think that managing emotional wellbeing is important.
  • 91% of Indians are actively looking for stress-relief solutions.
  • 86% of Indian consumers agree that what they eat has a direct impact on their emotions.

The rise of plant-based eats

Mintel also noted that the preference for natural, simple and flexible diets is leading consumers to seek more fruits, vegetables, grains, seeds, herbs and other plant-based ingredients within the products that they purchase. The rise in plant-based diets can be attributed to heightened concerns for animal welfare, the environmental impact of intensive animal farming and health reasons.

  • 29% of Vietnamese consumers are resolved to eat fewer animal products after the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • 69% of Thai consumers believe plant-based foods are better for the environment than meat or dairy.
  • 30% of Filipino consumers say contribution to fruit/vegetable intake is an important consideration when shopping for food.
  • 31% of Australian consumers believe that support of animal welfare is one of the most important factors when making food and drink choices.

Sourced from Mintel