Healthy opportunity in Asian ingredients sector

By Dominique Patton

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Cholesterol levels Nutrition

Healthy ingredients, a must-have for any ingredient supplier these
days, are just as relevant in Asia as western markets, say
companies exhibiting at this week's Fi-Asia in Bangkok.

Indeed, with the enormous populations in several Asian countries and the rapid rate of changing lifestyles, the need for preventing obesity-related disease could be even greater, they say. Finland's Raisio, behind one of the first cholesterol-lowering ingredients to be commercialised, has been introducing its Benecol to Asia for some time, says Asia sales director Anu Hopia, making its first inroads into the region with a product launch in Turkey this summer. However there are much bigger markets waiting to be tapped. "It is estimated that 33 per cent of adults in China have high cholesterol. Their cholesterol levels are now the same as we have in Finland,"​ Hopia told "The Chinese also already have two major risk factors for heart disease; a very high smoking prevalence, and high blood pressure. The trend in rising cholesterol levels means this population will be at greater risk,"​ she added. OceanSpray, producer of dried cranberries, cranberry juice concentrate and cranberry powder, is already seeing good performance in China. "We started our business there last year and are looking at significant sales for this year,"​ said global marketing manager Arun Hiranandani. "Asia will be a big opportunity for us over the next five years, especially China and India,"​ he added. India's huge number of diabetics present opportunities for marketing cranberries, as diabetics tend to get a lot of urinary tract infections. Other health ingredients being promoted at the show include DSM's range of nutraceuticals, particularly its newly added olive-derived Hidrox, as well as Nutrinova's omega-3 DHA and Fuji Chemical's astaxanthin. While many Asian consumers have lower spending power than Europeans, many still retain a strong association between food and health and spend a relatively higher portion of their income on food. The region also has some major trend-setters, particularly the Japanese market, known for its innovative health foods market. Food and beverage makers in China, South Korea and south-east Asia look to Japan as well as Australia to follow the latest trends in food formulation.

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