Sunday, April 28, 2019

Healthier, More Nutritious and Convenient Food and Beverage With Fonterra

Sad but true, Malaysia is Asia's fattest country according to a recent Economic Intelligence Unit report. However, the tide appears to be changing with consumers demanding for a healthier, more nutritious and convenient food. Last week, we had the opportunity to attend a panel discussion with Fonterra that explored the consumer trends changing Malaysia's eating habits.

The panel was led by Fonterra Brands Malaysia's New Product Development, Scientific and Regulatory Affairs Director, Megawati Suzari who was joined by Kantar Worldpanel's Regional Account Director, Karen Leong and Le Cordon Bleu-trained Chef James Won, the owner of enfin, an award-winning French restaurant in Kuala Lumpur.

Ms Karen shared on how Malaysia and across the region, there is a growing focus on health and wellbeing, which is changing consumer's relationship with food, while technology is helping make everything more accessible. There is now a wider base of consumers willing to spend on products that support their overall health whilst at the same time, due to hectic lifestyle hence consumers are seeking convenient options that will allow them to maintain their health on the go.

Ms Megawati said in her role at Fonterra Brands Malaysia as head of new product development, it is crucial to understand these broader macro trends before drilling deeper into what this means from a dairy innovation perspective. She further adds that dairy being the core ingredient at Fonterra is truly a superior ingredient that allows them to deliver consumers high-quality nutrition through a variety of products as consumers are recognising the importance of dairy in a balanced diet.

Elaborating further, Ms Megawati explained that changing taste preferences is a key consideration when looking at product innovation especially when consumers today seeking for whole and natural foods, which are less processed and have fewer additives. Fonterra is currently focusing on building a portfolio of products without added sugar or artificial sweeteners and using natural colouring and flavouring to bring out the real taste of each product. The drive by consumers across the region for products that support greater health and wellness is also helping grow demand in the healthy ageing category.

"We are capturing the growth of this segment through one of our flagship brands Anlene. The product range is fortified with nutrients to support bone, joint and muscle so that as we grow older, we can all live a more active lifestyle," said Ms Megawati.

Ms Megawati demonstrated Mixed Berries Yoghurt Parfait prepared using Anlene mix berries yoghurt, rolled oats with assorted nuts and berries which makes a great healthy breakfast.

The need for convenience is also seeing more people eat out of the home with growth across the foodservice sector, where Fonterra is a market leader for dairy. However, to capture this growth the industry needs to be conscious of consumer trends to ensure that it can deliver what consumers looking for.

Sharing his knowledge on the changing palettes of Malaysians, Chef James said, "In an increasingly globalised world, consumers are more discerning than ever when it comes to food. It is important for those in the food and beverage industry to be aware of these trends and stay nimble when introducing new products and flavours."

He also noted that there's a real change in offerings, thanks to the trend towards healthier eating habits. Consumers are becoming more aware of the food they eat and will question what is in the meals they are consuming out of the home. There are healthier variants of local dishes such as nasi lemak on restaurant menus, a testament to how Malaysian's relationship with food is changing.

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