Most Indonesians are Health Conscious and are Open to Healthier Product Reformulation

Indonesia, 04 February 2020 – According to a new report by Food Industry Asia (FIA) and research firm IGD, almost all consumers in Indonesia (99 per cent) are interested in improving their diets and a majority (89 per cent) are happy for products to be reformulated, provided that taste is not compromised.

The first of its kind in Indonesia, the report titled ‘Healthier Product Reformulation in Indonesia’ surveyed both consumers and food and beverage (F&B) businesses to better understand industry efforts on delivering improved nutrition through reformulation, as well as consumer behaviours and perceptions of products that have been tweaked to become healthier.

Indonesia has the fourth highest burden of acute malnutrition in the world, and two million children under 5 suffer from severe acute malnutrition. The burden of NCDs has also significantly risen in the last decade and is estimated to account for 73% of all deaths. In light of this, the Indonesian government has introduced a supplementation and fortification programme to address the major nutrient deficiencies in the population while the food industry has been fortifying foods while also reducing the public health sensitive nutrients in view of the growing disease burden in the country.

Matthew Kovac, Executive Director, FIA, said, “Indonesia food companies have been supporting the national health agenda through greater product innovation – 83 per cent of companies surveyed have embarked on reformulation to improve the nutritional value of their products and 22 per cent have already completed their plans, thus bringing about positive changes to the landscape in Indonesia.”

The industry’s efforts are in sync with consumers’ perception of and receptiveness towards reformulated products as nine in 10 agree that companies should be actively working on this. However, consumers remain unwilling to compromise on taste for health benefits, with 89 per cent of respondents indicating that they are willing to accept reformulated products if companies can retain the existing flavour profile.

As a result of the increased demand for healthier products, there is strong commercial incentive for companies to invest in reformulation. The report also found that more can be done in conjunction with the government as 94 per cent of companies felt that greater fiscal incentives would help to encourage research and development (R&D) activities.

“In order for us to accelerate the industry’s efforts, multi-stakeholder collaborations will be crucial in driving greater R&D activities for new product development and reformulation,” Mr Kovac added.

Susan Barratt, CEO of IGD, said: “At IGD, we work closely with industry players to help them meet the needs of the public through our research and best practice. The results of our recent joint study with FIA highlight the importance of health to Indonesian consumers, who are calling on companies to play a part through their reformulation efforts.

“Our research shows there is a substantial opportunity to enhance healthier product development, providing insights into how the industry and government can work together to achieve this. I look forward to seeing how they can inspire change among consumers.”

The report also found that:
  • Consumers are paying greater attention to the quality and taste of products: 92 per cent of respondents indicated that the quality of products was important when selecting food and beverages, while 81 per cent felt that taste was crucial. The clear display of nutritional information on packaging (80 per cent) was also featured as one of the top three drivers of product choice.
  • The industry’s reformulation agenda has shifted: While F&B companies previously focused on the reducing saturated fat, sodium, fat and sugar, current efforts are now geared toward calorie, sodium and sugar reduction alongside the addition of protein.
  • Budget limitation was identified as the top reformulation challenge: While the challenges for different nutrients may vary, consumer acceptability towards reformulated products and budget limitations emerged as the top concerns for businesses. Maintaining taste was also identified as a key challenge for the industry.