Soy milk gets a functional makeover in Asia

By Clarisse Douaud

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Soy milk, Milk, Southeast asia

Soy milk manufacturers in the US and Europe could take a page of
out of Southeast Asia's book when comes to innovating and driving
the market.

According to a new report from Organic Monitor, the market for soy milk in Southeast Asia is growing by 14 percent annually. In a region that has drunk soy milk for centuries with a very market for the beverage, this is phenomenal growth according to the firm. Manufacturers in Southeast Asia have been able to reinvigorate sales in the category by launching new soy milk products as dairy alternatives and functional beverages. While in the past the beverage has been sold as a soft drink in the region, manufacturers are now capitalizing on the popularity of 'functionality' to realign the drink as a nutraceutical concept. "In Southeast Asia, they're taking it one step further,"​ Organic Monitor analyst Amarjit Sahota told NutraIngredients-USA. "In Europe and the US we have not seen the use of novel plant extracts in soy milk yet." ​ The $340m market for soy milk in Southeast Asia has been jump-started with fortifications including vitamins, minerals, omega fatty acids and plant extracts. An example of positioning soy as a functional beverage is the first-ever pomegranate flavored soy milk. Organic Monitor draws on the case of Marigold branded soy milk in Malaysia. According to the analyst, Malaysia Dairy industries launched the functional soy beverage with retailers in Singapore, featuring the use of antioxidant-rich pomegranate. Another newly released functional soy beverage in the region is Nutrisoy Red Bean Soya Milk. The red bean plays a role in traditional Chinese medicine and is high in fiber. Launched by F&N Foods, the red bean soy milk drink is also fortified with calcium and amino acids. The soy milk market in the US and Europe established over the past 15 years primarily due to consumers with lactose intolerance, according to Organic Monitor. However, recently the category has shifted towards the functional beverage category. Now, says Sahota, there is opportunity for soy milk manufacturers in the US and Europe to follow Southeast Asia's lead and use functional flavors and extracts to diversify the category and further boost sales. The soy milk market in Southeast Asia has a much higher volume of sales than those in the US and Europe, however, the product sold in the US and Europe tends to be organic, higher in quality and sold with a much higher price tag. Manufacturers in Southeast Asia have not only been enhancing the profile of soy milk by realigning it along functional categories, but also by improving product quality, says Organic Monitor. The soy milk manufactured for Southeast Asia is manufactured by local producers who have been established for a long time, according to Organic Monitor. While in the US and Europe, the market is supplied by local manufacturers as well as some from Asia. Product launches in other Asian countries have also included blends using corn and fruit & vegetable juices. In Thailand, producers this year introduced soy beverages with aloe vera, black sesame and honey. Another example of functional soy beverage innovations has been the use and marketing of ingredients along cosmeceutical purposes. Organic Monitor cites a soy milk with collagen and targeted at young women for skin regeneration and beauty.

Related topics: Soya-based ingredients

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