Food Safety – Key to Consumer Preference in Asia

More than 70 per cent of senior executives at this year’s FIA Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Leaders’ Debate voted Food Safety as the issue that will have the biggest impact on consumer preference this year.

In an opinion poll conducted by FIA on 16th April, Food Safety polled considerably higher than Sustainable Sourcing, Genetically Modified (GM) Ingredients, Health and Wellness, and surprisingly, Price, as issues that would have the greatest impact on consumer preference in Asia over the coming year.


The poll took place during FIA’s Leaders Debate, held to discuss and identify issues and trends across the industry in Asia.

The views of the audience resonated with those of the Panel for the Leaders Debate that featured Mr Iain McLaughlin President, ASEAN Business Unit for The Coca Cola Company, Mr Peter Ter Kulve, Executive Vice President SEA and Australasia Unilever and Mr Ali Potia, Head, Asia Consumer Insights Centre and Associate Partner, McKinsey & Company.

(Picture from left to right: Mr Brad Jaffe - moderator, Mr Iain McLaughlin, Mr Peter Ter Kulve and Mr Ali Potia address the audience during the Leaders Debate)

“Food safety is a basic right and consumers should be able to trust the food that they buy to feed themselves and their children, said Mr Iain McLaughlin.

“People want a better, deeper understanding of where their food is coming from and what has been used during the process of growing that food.” Mr McLaughlin stated that this trend is prevalent in all the major Asian markets.

Mr Peter Ter Kulve highlighted that FIA continues to play a role in improving food safety standards. He said, “I’m proud to work with FIA because we’re really able to do something with the countries we serve by raising standards to a level where everyone can get access to safe food.”

Mr Ali Potia added that the trend had been recognised in the market analysis done by McKinsey, but that price was a countering factor in the reality of daily food purchases.

The Leadership Panel’s commentary mirrors the priority work of FIA that was touched on by Mr Amit Banati, FIA President, in his opening address at the AGM.

“The last 12 months has seen a rapid change of pace across the region, and we’ve seen some emotionally charged debates on food safety and nutrition. This has brought into focus the huge value of public private partnerships, he said.

“At FIA, our goal from the very start has been to earn a place for the food industry as a credible and reliable partner to governments and other stakeholders who care about shaping the future of food and how it is traded and consumed in the region. We have achieved significant milestones across all three of our priority areas: harmonisation, food safety, and health & nutrition.”

In the area of food safety, Mr Banati highlighted that in 2014, the industry increased its investments in food safety programmes alongside global organisations such as the World Bank and World Health Organization (WHO).

The World Bank’s Global Food Safety Partnership (GFSP) has brought together leading institutions and experts from around the world to scale up capacity building and training in food safety standards, especially in fast emerging markets in the region.

A key focus of FIA’s five year strategic plan will be on how the industry can support improving food safety in fast emerging markets in the region, such as China, by supporting organisations on the ground with increased information, education, and training in food safety.

Having celebrated its fifth anniversary in 2015, FIA now embarks on the next stage of its journey to build on the power of partnerships to deliver a vibrant food & beverage industry in Asia.

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