Healthy Beverages and the Better-for-you Market in APMEA

Consumers in the Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and Africa want healthy beverages that have reduced sugar, clean labels and functional ingredients

KerryDigest Fast Facts:
  • Healthy beverages are in demand globally, including in the Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and Africa
  • Consumers want better-for-you beverages due to health concerns and social and governmental pressures.
  • Our researchers have identified three areas of focus for beverages brands looking to harness the power of this trend, including clean label, sugar reduction and fortification.
KerryDigest Full Scoop:

Around the world, demand for better-for-you and healthy beverages is on the rise. Global consumption of functional beverages rose from 12.6% to 27.2% between 2012 and 2016, according to Innova Market Insights, and Mordor Intelligence reports that the global beverage enhancers market was valued at USD 1.5 billion in 2017, with functional ingredients one of the main market drivers.

Across the Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa (APMEA), the popularity of such better-for-you beverages is being driven by a number of macro trends.

  • Health concerns. The region’s population is aging, with the United Nations suggesting Asia will be home to 24% of the world’s older population by 2050. At the same time, the region’s type 2 diabetes levels are also growing.
  • The free-from movement. Because many consumers are avoiding more than one ingredient, it is now commonplace to see product launches with multiple free-from claims.
  • Sugar regulations and sin taxes. In May, Saudi Arabia became the latest in a growing list of countries to announce an excise tax on all drinks with added sugar. Several other countries throughout APMEA have already passed or are considering such “sin taxes” .

Faced with the push of government regulation and the pull of rising consumer interest in healthier choices, there are mounting commercial and legal reasons for drink manufacturers in APMEA to examine and possibly adjust the nutritional properties of their products. For brands considering reformulation, our consumer insights team has identified three key considerations.

Sugar reduction

The success of reduced-, low- and no-sugar drinks is dependent on a brand’s ability to maintain product quality and taste. Sugar plays an important role in flavour, texture, color, viscosity, mouthfeel and aroma. When a manufacturer removes or reduces sugar, steps must be taken to preserve these qualities while masking any bitterness and off-notes that may increase when sweetness levels are reduced.

Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, saccharin and sucralose were once popular because they are sweeter than sugar but lower in calories. However, with the clean label movement taking hold in APMEA, there is an emerging preference for natural sweeteners like honey and agave instead. Because these ingredients can have their own limitations, such as increased bitterness and metallic off-notes, some manufacturers are choosing to use taste modulators, which modulate the overall taste profile in the finished product, on their own or in conjunction with other sweeteners.

Functional fortification

Adding functional ingredients such as proteins, probiotics and prebiotics, fibre and flavonoids to beverages can be an effective way for manufacturers to differentiate their products and attract new consumer segments.

Drinks enhanced with probiotics, prebiotics and fermented ingredients are increasingly popular in the marketplace. Beverage brands that move beyond traditional products such as yoghurt and fermented culture drinks and branch into new categories such as tea bags and flavoured water may win business due to the consumer interest in novel and new products.

Calcium is another in-demand ingredient. Lactose-free products are also a burgeoning market, particularly in Asia, where a segment of the population is naturally lactose intolerant. But most lactose-free beverages do not include the calcium content of full-lactose versions. Brands that can fortify their lactose-free products to include easily absorbable calcium will have a new unique selling proposition.

Cleaning up labels

The clean label movement is steadily taking root in APMEA, with a growing number of shoppers wanting to know what is in their products and preferring to buy foods and beverages that contain natural, familiar and simple ingredients. A clean label can be attained through the development of a new product or the reformulation of an existing one.

In beverages and beyond, ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup and monosodium glutamate are deemed negative by the clean label movement, as are some ingredients that are used to add flavour and colour. Consumer opinions about specific ingredients are ever changing, so manufacturers will benefit from keeping abreast of the latest trends and paying attention to local nuances. Manufacturers may also need to invest in educating consumers about the health benefits of ingredients that have been added to fortify or clean up the label of a product, particularly if they are uncommon.

Beverage manufacturers can grow their market share in APMEA by catering to the growing demand for better-for-you products. To learn more about consumer preferences, and how beverage manufacturers can win the better-for-you market, register for our 3 July, 2019 webinar, “Healthier Beverages: The Quest for Health”.

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