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Healthy Eating in Asia: Low-carb, High Protein and Alternatives

March 2020

It is tempting to conclude that low-carb, high-protein diets were a mere fad that fizzled out about a decade ago. However, a closer look reveals that plenty of opportunities remain in Asia Pacific to capitalise on the low-carb, high-protein trend in line with the popularity enjoyed in developed countries. It is sure to spread to middle and higher socioeconomic groups in developing economies which are battling with the rise of obesity.

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Key Findings

Mindful eating gains popularity over special diets

Globally, special diets, such as low-carb, high-protein diets, are gradually slowing down, as consumers are shifting towards mindful eating. In recent years, consumers are embracing carbs in moderation as a key component of a balanced diet as well as seeking protein from more natural and ethical sources.

Asia Pacific still catching up in the low-carb, high-protein trend

Unlike the global trend, mindful eating has not arrived yet to Asia Pacific and low-carb, high-protein diets are still catching up, as both carbs and protein intake are continuously increasing, albeit from a relatively low base in the region. This might be due to the fact that most Asians are still rooted in their traditional diets, and consumers are less educated about low-carb, high-protein diets, choosing high-carb foods for satiety reasons.

Low-carb, high-protein diets have now moved to mainstream in Japan

However, as diets are becoming more westernised in some developed countries in Asia Pacific, low-carb, high-protein diets have increased in popularity. For example, in Japan, thanks to manufacturers, foodservice and retailers' efforts to boost the demand, the trend has firmly established as a widely accepted way of healthy eating for all generations.

Next opportunities lie in South Korea and East and Southeast Asian countries 

Opportunity remains strong in Asia Pacific, where the low-carb, high-protein trend is still a niche. South Korea has the highest growth potential with weight management gaining traction among consumers. The potential for low-carb, high-protein products is also set to grow in East and Southeast Asian countries, where consumers are increasingly battling against weight issues.


Key findings

Global Carb and Protein Consumption

The low-carb, high-protein trend boomed decades ago
Mindful eating gains popularity over low-carb, high-protein diets
Carbohydrates: shifting from avoidance to naturally-healthy carbs
Protein: shifting from animal-based to alternative protein

Asia Pacific in Context

Asia Pacific still playing catch up in low-carb and high-protein
Rice and noodles are more common than bread, meat and dairy
Low-carb, high-protein: gaining momentum in Japan and Singapore

Japan Leads Development

Case study: low-carb, high-protein diets have now gone mainstream
Bran Pan and Salad Chicken boosted low-carb, high-protein boom
Trend moves from niche to mainstream in all generations
Low-carb: active product varieties and retail activities
High-protein: trend spreads in retail and foodservice
Key takeaways and outlook for low-carb, high-protein diets in Japan


South Korea is set to follow in the footsteps of Japan
SEA and India have a large potential with war on weight issues
Key takeaways


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