The Changing Appetites of Southeast Asia

5 March 2021

The Changing Appetites of Southeast Asia>


Southeast Asia is home to the world’s most prosperous Food and Beverage industry, worth US$300 billion. In the latest Spire Webinar, Spire Deputy CEO Japnit Singh, Upgrown Farming’s Lionel Wong and Thinking Forks’ Rinka Banerjee discuss how rising affluence and COVID-19 accelerated the shift in consumer tastes and preferences.

In the first segment of the webinar, Japnit shares the findings of Spire’s Food Trends 2021 survey, which stemmed from Spire’s research database of over 1,500 companies across Southeast Asia (SEA). Valued at US$300 billion, the market value of SEA’s Food and Beverage (F&B) industry is concentrated in Indonesia, with its processed food industry valued at US$118 billion.

In terms of food expenditure per capita across SEA, wealthier nations spend a great deal more on food, in terms of absolute values. However, a closer look reveals that although Singapore’s US$5,722 expenditure on food is almost three-fold that of Vietnam’s, it accounts for only 7% of their total expenditure, whereas Vietnamese consumers spends a whopping 35% of their total expenditure on food.

Japnit shares that over 77% of food companies surveyed say that local consumers are showing increased mindfulness of ingredients due to health reasons. This trend boosts preference for plant-based alternatives, with 79% of food companies surveyed preparing for changes in consumer diets. In the same light, Rinka also shares how brands across Asia have responded to the COVID-19 crisis, emphasising on health and wellness in their new advertisement campaigns.

Addressing sustainability, Japnit shares that 77% of food companies surveyed found that local consumers are concerned about sustainability and the impact of food ingredients. Lionel from Upgrown Farming, an agricultural consultancy firm, seconds this view. Sharing his insights that traditional food production and strategies have been upended by increasing urbanisation, Lionel expresses that there has been a huge development in controlled environment agriculture. Not only is such a method of producing food insulated from changes in global temperatures and seasonal disruption, it is also a more profitable way of producing produce while offering the organic “pesticide-free” factor that consumers are starting to demand.

Based on Spire’s findings, Japnit believes that active and aggressive growth within the food industry is expected of the vaccine-induced, post COVID world. While companies across countries differ on the extent to which they think COVID-19 would affect business competitions, some trends appear to be here to stay. Companies across SEA expressed the desire to actively expand post-pandemic, shift to local suppliers and ingredients as well as address sustainability as a key business priority.

For more information, click to watch our webinar.

For media enquiries, please contact:

Marie Teo
Manager, Group Corporate Communications
Spire Research and Consulting
Phone: (65) 6838 5355
E-mail: [email protected]