South-East Asia: From Functional Soya Drinks to Organic?

Soya drinks are increasingly marketed as functional drinks in Asia as manufacturers target health-conscious consumers.

Soya drinks are mainly consumed as soft drinks in South-East Asia. They are widely available in retailers and foodservice establishments in countries like Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. The launch of soya drinks with functional ingredients is expanding the market by attracting consumers who are seeking healthy & nutritious beverages.

New product launches in Singapore in recent months include soya milk with wheatgrass and soya milk with organic brown rice. The chilled soya drinks are specifically targeted at health-conscious consumers. Wheatgrass is high in vitamins & minerals and has a number of associated health benefits, whilst organic brown rice also gives the soya drink a natural and healthy image.

Green tea is also being used to give soya drinks a functional dimension. Following the lead of Nutrisoy in Singapore, Lactasoy launched the first soya milk with green tea in the Thai market earlier this year. Green tea, consumed by the Chinese for 4,000 years, is widely popular with Asian consumers because of its range of health benefits.

Functional soya drinks are not new in the Asian market however. Ace Canning and Nestlé have been marketing soya milk with omega acids for a couple of years. Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids have been scientifically proven to lower cholesterol. European manufacturers are following with the launch of soya drinks fortified with omega acids.

As functional soya drinks become established in Asian countries, the organic arena could become the next battleground for manufacturers. Outside northern Asia, just one Asian company currently produces organic soya drinks, however more are likely to follow suite as consumer awareness of organic production methods rises. Asian consumers perceive organic products to be more nutritious and healthier than non-organic products.

Identifying the growth opportunities in this emerging market, a Malaysian organic food company has started to import organic soya ice-cream from Scandinavia. Country Farm, a subsidiary of the Berjaya Group, is currently selling the fresh ice-cream in its retailers and it has plans to expand distribution in the region. If successful, the move is likely to fast-track the entry of soya drink manufacturers in the organic arena.

Related report: The South-East Asian Market for Soya & Non-Dairy Drinks

Posted: August 25th 2005

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