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Sweet functional opportunities amid Thailand’s ageing population

By Kacey Culliney , 30-Jul-2012
Last updated the 30-Jul-2012 at 13:30 GMT

Manufacturers should act on opportunities in functional sweets sector, says analyst
Manufacturers should act on opportunities in functional sweets sector, says analyst

Functional confectionery that targets Thailand’s ageing population is an area of opportunity for manufacturers, says analyst.

Thailand’s confectionery market was pegged at 13.2bn Thai baht (THB) ($418m) for 2011 and has seen a 73% growth in value since 2007, according to Leatherhead market analysis. Volume sales were worth an estimated 44,200 tonnes in 2011, up from around 35,000 in 2007 at a yearly growth rate of around 7% each year.

The sugar confectionery market eats up the lion’s share; representing around 51% in value terms and worth an estimated THB6.7bn ($212.1m), the report said. This segment is significantly ahead of chocolate (27%) and chewing gum (22%).

Jonathan Thomas, primary market analyst at Leatherhead Food Research and author of the report, said the country’s rapidly ageing population will need to be addressed by confectioners, and could be done so with focus on functionality.

“Demand for medicated sweets is likely to remain strong, especially on account of the country’s ageing population,” Thomas told ConfectioneryNews.com.

“This in turn might create opportunities for products fortified with ingredients tailored to the well-being of seniors,” he said.

Examples include green tea; already popular across the Asia Pacific region, or calcium and vitamin D for bone health, he added.

Asia familiar with functional confectionery

“Acceptance of functional products is generally high across the region, with Japan representing the world’s largest market for functional sugar confectionery – this is where many innovation trends originate,” Thomas said.

“Thai consumers are thought to be fairly receptive towards sugar confectionery offering functional health benefits,” he said.

The report said that medicated sweets represent a sizeable share of the country’s largest segment; sugar confectionery.

There is functional confectionery already available in Thailand, such as tooth-whitening chewing gums such as Extra, medicated sweets like Halls and breath-freshening sweets.

Western tastes

Thomas also identified a preference towards western-style confectionery products; a trend set to increase further.

“It may well be that leading suppliers like Kraft and Nestlé will seek to broaden their offerings in Thailand,” he said.

“Many of the younger consumers in particular are becoming more adventurous in their tastes, a reason why western brands have been increasingly successful,” he added.

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