Asia Pacific is a major region for dairy as the biggest market by value, although with the lowest per capita spending. While sales are primarily stemming from China, markets with large populations, like India and Indonesia, are growing rapidly. Growth is being aided by modern trade development, changing consumer habits and dynamic product development, which makes this region key for potential growth.
Despite being the largest market globally and registering the fastest growth over 2012-2017, per capita consumption of dairy in Asia Pacific lags behind the rest of the world. This points to opportunities for manufacturers, as there is rising consumer interest in the benefits of dairy products as a natural snack. Manufacturers are also focusing on widening their target consumers to accelerate growth.
Shifting preferences towards packaged branded dairy is driving growth in emerging markets, while more mature markets are more affected by product trends. For instance, Chinese consumers’ anti-additives sentiments boosts the popularity of fresh milk, while in South Korea, fresh milk is negatively affected by flavoured milk drinks, as manufacturers compete by introducing new flavours like honey, watermelon and toffee nut, inspired by foodservice menus.
Yili and Mengniu lead dairy in Asia Pacific, but their presence is limited to China, whose sheer size is sufficient to outstrip companies that have a larger market count. Yakult’s positioning as beneficial for gut health sustained its performance, while multinationals like Nestlé and FrieslandCampina draw sales from multiple markets. Rising interest in dairy gives opportunity to smaller companies to gain sales from a broader base of consumers.
Urbanisation and the rise of modern trade benefit dairy due to reliance on chillers and cold chain logistics for categories like yoghurt and fresh milk. Product freshness plays an essential role in the growth of dairy products as more nutritious than shelf stable variants, especially in emerging Asia, where health consciousness is gaining traction. However, consumers in rural areas rely on independent small grocers, which manufacturers are expected to penetrate.
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