SINGAPORE: Consumers in Indonesia and Thailand are increasingly looking to lead healthy lifestyles and view protein consumption as a way of achieving that goal, according to a new study.

Mintel, the market research firm, revealed that three-quarters (75%) of urban Indonesians and two-thirds (66%) of urban Thais say they aim to have a healthier diet in 2017.

And almost two-thirds (64%) of metropolitan consumers in both markets say they prefer to get their protein from foods that are naturally high in protein.

According to Mintel, this is up from just 37% of urban Indonesians and 41% of urban Thais who said the same in a survey it conducted in March 2016.

However, food brands appear to have been relatively slow in noticing this trend in Asia Pacific because, in the two years to July 2017, the region saw just 5% growth in the number of food and drink launches with a “high/added protein” claim compared with 26% growth globally.

“Consumers in the region show continuous interest in proteins and are incorporating more of them into their daily diets and eating regimes,” said Jane Barnett, Mintel’s Head of Insights, South APAC.

“Much of this growth in demand is attributable to consumer belief that protein aids in the pursuit or maintenance of a healthy physique, and provides them with energy and satiety. While brands in Asia Pacific have taken notice of this interest, there is still more room for innovation within the region,” she added.

The Mintel research also found that nearly half (47%) of urban Thai consumers think that high protein food or drink assists with building muscle, while 37% of metro Indonesians think that high protein helps in managing weight.

Furthermore, just over two in five consumers in urban Indonesia (42%) and Thailand (41%) feel that high protein food or drink provides them with long-lasting energy.

And besides striving to maintain a healthy body, it appears consumers in Southeast Asia are also keen to look after the mind, with 61% of metropolitan Thais believing that maintaining a positive mental state is an important factor in having a healthy lifestyle.

Mintel’s Barnett said this is another area where brands could improve. “While there have been a couple of products across Southeast Asia’s sports, energy, and lifestyle beverage space that talk about the ‘mind and body’, there is definitely still space for brands and companies to expand into this area,” she said.

Data sourced from Mintel; additional content by WARC staff