Healthy Beverage Market Presents a Growth Opportunity in Asia

The Asian beverage market presents huge growth opportunities for soft drinks manufacturers. However, future market growth will be in the area of healthier products, according to a panel of experts at the Asia Drink Conference 2016, which recently took place in Bangkok, Thailand.

With pressure from regulators across the Asian region, in the form of proposed sugar taxes, industry must respond with growing the healthier beverage category, as well as developing and applying innovations to reduce sugar in drinks, said one of the speakers, Mr Vivek Chhabra, president of Sermsuk PLC. Mr Chhabra has served in leadership positions with several beverage companies, including Asia Pacific Breweries Singapore and Fraser and Neave, Limited.

Mr Chhabra’s comments were echoed by two of the other speakers, Mr Daryl Thio, Regional Business Development Consultant at Euromonitor International, and Dr Surapong Pinitglang from the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce.

In his presentation, Mr Thio highlighted data from research done by Euromonitor, which showed that the top three survey trends and growth drivers were related to products that were all-natural, had limited sugar or no added sugar, and had limited or no artificial ingredients. Mr Thio pointed to figures that showed that the health and wellness beverage category presented a growth opportunity, from US$100 billion in 2015 to US$150 billion in 2020, in the Asia Pacific region. He concluded by pointing out six factors that present the “ultimate recipe for health beverages": maintain low sugar content, keep it natural, target a specific health trend, make it affordable, create a modern image and provide convenient packaging.

Dr Surapong Pinitglang Pinitglang, who is an assistant professor at the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said he supported the views presented by Mr Thio, and spoke about seven key changes the beverage industry must accept. He emphasised that the key change was that the future of the beverage industry is in the area of healthy products, which includes functional drinks, probiotic drinks and products that contain less sugar, or low-calorie or zero-calorie sugars, or natural sweeteners such as Stevia.

Asia Drink Conference 2016 took place alongside other events, such as the Food Innovation Asia Conference 2016 and the Food Innovation Contest 2016. These events occurred on the sidelines of ProPak Asia 2016, which took place from 15 to 18 June at the Bangkok International Trade and Exhibition Centre (BITEC) in Bangkok.

ProPak Asia 2016 is an international processing and packaging event for Asia's rapidly expanding food, drink and pharmaceutical markets, providing an annual meeting point for the industry to discuss innovation and technology in this sector, as well as exchange ideas and best practices on how the packaging industry can work hand in hand with food, drink and pharma companies to meet their packaging needs. The event aims to be a forum for industry to discuss the challenges that need to be addressed by industry in response to the region's regulatory landscape.

Over 1,900 exhibitors from 45 countries, and 16 international pavilions from Australia, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, the UK and the USA participated in ProPak Asia 2016.

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