Innovation in Meals: Asia Pacific Through a Global Lens

June 2020

Asia Pacific is under the spotlight as a high-potential region, particularly for the nascent cooking ingredients and meals categories. Competition is intensifying as consumers have more options for meals than ever before outside of the home, driving the importance of innovation to excite them. This report explores the types of innovation put forth by local firms and aligned with strategic themes that will shape cooking ingredients and meals in Asia for the next 3-5 years.

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Key Findings

Regional players can expand to unlock Asia's strong potential

Prominent local players in each Asian market limit the penetration of regional players – this in turn dampens the potential for regional cuisine and innovations that can help to drive trends and preparing traditional dishes at home. This is especially so for categories such as sauces, dressings and condiments which is largely value-driven as consumers seek quality packaged ingredients.

Strategic innovations provide a roadmap for future growth

Leveraging food delivery and offering products that align with certain values specific to cooking ingredients and meals in Asia can help to drive demand. This is especially as consumer familiarity with digital means of food ordering is already developed, and in many emerging markets consumers are still trading up to packaged products from fresh ingredients.

Rising demand and supply shortfalls provide opportunity for a plant-based future

Sustainability, environmental, and animal rights concerns have yet to translate into mainstream consumption of plant-based protein in Asia. Along with the huge market of tofu-based products, the “new generation” of meat substitutes faces many challenges in this region. More affordable pricing, and diverse and localised applications are a few methods for plant-based food to grow.

Innovation around these strategic themes will accelerate

Developments in food tech and value-added products will continue, and plant-based food will also become more prominent – first through M&A by global firms or start-ups. Other strategic themes that have advanced in American and European markets will also infiltrate the region, which will be seen in the form of new innovations that will shape consumer values.


Key findings

Competitive Landscape

Asia Pacific has been a strong growth driver for meals categories
Asian firms among global giants thanks to China and Japan
Most leading firms in Asia Pacific pull sales from a single market
Multinational companies win through wider geographical footprint
Major food firms are turning their focus to Asia Pacific
Local giants explore opportunities for geographic expansion
Innovations are essential to drive growth in packaged meals

Strategic Themes in Asian Meals

Emerging global strategic themes and applicability in Asian meals
Packaged meal categories are competing with fresh food on demand
Alternatives to home-cooked meals are increasingly common
Cookit, South Korea: new entrant in meal kits widens the HMR market
Jobbie, Malaysia: direct-to-consumer, artisanal brands still in demand
Scratch ingredients are still in demand due to their versatility
S&B One Pro Kitchen, Japan: convenience adds value for home cooks
Vissan, Vietnam: novel flavours help to differentiate from fresh food
Asia Pacific lags behind in consumption of healthier packaged food
Low uptake of healthier packaged ingredients for home-cooked meals
Shifting focus from the nutritional label to the overall health benefits

Case Study: Plant-based in Asia

Case study: plant-based in Asia
Tofu overshadows meat substitutes demand in Asia Pacific
Animal rights and the feel-good factor are key drivers globally
Food security is an immediate concern for Asians, instead of sustainability
A “new generation” of meat substitutes faces challenges in APAC
Meat substitute demand depends on income and taste preferences
Suitability to local culture can determine the success of a new product
Opportunities may arise from supply challenges in China…
…as growing meat demand cannot be met
Customising product categories and labelling to target Asia
Diversification and localisation as a way to break into Asia Pacific
Key takeaways for plant-based food in Asia


Key takeaways: what’s next for emerging themes?
Strategic innovation can encourage more home cooking




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