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Milk Alternatives in Asia Pacific: Finding Opportunities for Growth

February 2020

Food trends are constantly evolving, impacted by many factors. Milk alternatives are no exception, and consumption has risen over the last few years, amidst the growing plant-based eating trend. This is one of the hottest topics in the food and nutrition industry. This report examines how the milk alternatives trends in Asia Pacific has evolved over the last few years and what factors have made an impact. It also explores future scenarios and the implications for businesses in the region.

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Key findings

Sales fall, owing to a decline in China

Asia Pacific stands out as the largest market for milk alternatives due to the long-standing traditions of plant-based consumption. Growth has, however, been sluggish for the region overall, owing to the impact of decline in China, while it has flourished globally, driven by the growing plant-based eating trend. The maturity of the largest market, China, is the main reason for the regional decline, combined with competition from substitute products, such as fresh milk, which is increasing popular as a healthy and nutritious part of the diet in the country.

Health and indulgence are drivers of growth

Despite Asia Pacific being a fairly mature region, it still has potential for value growth, which is reflected in positive performances in key markets, such as Japan, Thailand and South Korea. Health and indulgence are key factors driving value growth in the region, while sustainability has less impact in Asia Pacific than in other regions, as consumers are not choosing milk alternatives as a more sustainable alternative to dairy, but as part of their traditional diet, or as a healthier or indulgent choice.

Tailored strategy is set to bring back value growth

The importance of the two key drivers – health and indulgence – is widespread across the region, but varies by market. Determining what exactly should be focused on is essential for businesses to succeed. Milk alternative brands in each country are identifying areas of opportunity for innovation to better develop products that resonate with consumers. This is likely to drive value sales growth, bringing back a recovery to the milk alternatives category in the region.

Introduction

Scope
Key findings

Asia Pacific in the Global Context

Strong growth forecast for milk alternatives globally
World: Gaining momentum, driven by non-Asia Pacific regions
Asia Pacific: Growth dragged down by China
World: Sustainability, health and indulgence are driving value growth
Asia Pacific: Sustainability is less likely to lead value growth
Asia Pacific: Health and indulgence will be key drivers

Key Markets in Asia Pacific

Key market trends vary significantly
China: Stagnation due to saturation and popularity of dairy
China: Naturally healthy is gaining traction
Japan: Steady growth continues thanks to improvements in taste
Japan: the positioning of “healthy yet tasty” is key
Thailand: Expanding rapidly due to increasing health awareness
Thailand: S ugar tax focuses attention on health
South Korea: Recovery in growth thanks to manufacturers’ efforts
South Korea: Taste is important, but slimming offers opportunities

Outlook and Recommendations

Sales set to recover, with the top four markets growing…
…but the drivers are different from global trends
T ailored strategies are essential to drive value growth
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