With a high proportion of health-conscious consumers who are aware of the importance of digestive health to overall wellbeing, Thailand and Indonesia hold strong opportunities for food and drink products containing prebiotic ingredients. This is according to a new global consumer survey conducted by One Inch Whale on behalf of BENEO, a leading manufacturer of plant-based functional ingredients. The research surveyed a total of 9,243 consumers in 9 countries, including 2,009 participants in Thailand and Indonesia. BENEO will be participating in this year’s Food Ingredients Asia in Bangkok, Thailand from 20 – 22 September. At their shared booth (Booth number: S01) with its Sales Network Partner DPO International, visitors can gain insight into the company’s prebiotic solutions derived from chicory root fibres and their beneficial effect in terms of a healthy gut, inner wellbeing and overall health.
Heightened Awareness of How Digestive Health Significantly Impacts Overall Wellbeing
The research indicates that 1 in 2 consumers in Thailand (55%) and Indonesia (53%) define themselves as health-conscious, while about 1 in 3 already exhibit a strong interest in healthy foods and ingredients (29% and 38% respectively). There is also a widespread recognition among these Southeast Asian consumers of the intrinsic link between digestive health and overall health — especially with regard to physical and mental wellbeing, as well as an effective and functionable immune system. The survey highlights that 1 in 5 consumers in Thailand and Indonesia are already incorporating prebiotic foods and/or supplements as part of their regimen.
Awareness of the Link Between Prebiotics and Health
The majority of consumers associate prebiotics with supporting digestive health (58% Thailand, 73% Indonesia). Also, the link to overall health is strong, with 70% of Thai and 65% of Indonesian consumers making that connection. Compared to the global average of 53%, this is much more outspoken in this region and shows that consumers in both markets are highly cognisant.
In addition, consumers look closely to on-pack communication as a crucial purchase motivator, with over three-fifths referencing this information before buying (67% and 74% in Thailand and Indonesia, respectively). In fact, the appeal of prebiotics in on-pack communication is high in both countries (62% in Thailand and 70% in Indonesia).
Although consumers are extremely interested in prebiotics and understand its positive effects on health and wellbeing, there continues to be an unsatisfied demand; with more than half of respondents in Thailand and Indonesia stating that there are not enough healthy products to incorporate into their daily routine. This is particularly pertinent as their interest in digestive health goes beyond constipation or medical issues, and encompasses an understanding that a good working digestive system is part of a healthy lifestyle, or makes them feel good (55% in Thailand and 77% in Indonesia).
Myriam Snaet, Head of Market Intelligence and Consumer Insights at BENEO, shares: “The positive attitude towards prebiotics in the region, coupled with the high health awareness of consumers, demonstrates the promising market potential for foods and beverages with prebiotic benefits. Over the last 20 years, BENEO has been supporting scientific prebiotic research for our ingredients, and our vast technical expertise has enabled us to develop healthy foods and drinks that convince in terms of sensory appeal.”
She further adds “With digestive health being a big driver in the food sector, prebiotics are an effective way to tap into one of the most powerful food trends.”
According to the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP), a prebiotic is, “a substrate that is selectively utilised by host microorganisms conferring a health benefit.” BENEO’s chicory root fibres, Orafti® Inulin und Oligofructose, belong to the only very few prebiotics which are scientifically and clinically proven to be classified in accordance with its definition. Additionally, they are the only proven plant-based prebiotics on the market.
Furthermore, the National Agency of Drug and Food Control of Indonesia (Badan Pengawas Obat dan Makanan) has approved a prebiotic claim for chicory root fibres inulin and oligofructose, making it the first and only ingredients recognised as prebiotics in the country. The Chinese Nutrition Society (CNS) — China’s largest professional nutrition body — has also concluded that inulin and oligofructose are among the first accepted prebiotics. In total, more than 150 high quality human intervention studies have been published on chicory root fibre, showcasing strong evidence for its distinct physiological benefits.
Together with BENEO’s technical expertise spanning across all continents, food manufacturers are well-equipped to develop new products incorporating prebiotics that suit the regional palates of their consumers. It is this combination of scientific and technical expertise that is key for BENEO’s ambition to connect nutrition and health by supporting manufacturers in bringing healthy products to the shelves.