Functional food and drink products: Brain, eye and skin health tops health benefits sought by Thais

Consumers’ health status, personal interests and life priorities continuously change with age. Demanding lifestyles of Thai consumer, combined with early signs of ageing, often trigger middle-aged consumers to become more concerned about their health, nutrition, and resulting to increased interest in using functional food and drinks.

 A Mintel research revealed that 84% of Thai consumers ranked health as their top priority, and even more so for consumers aged between 25-44. Among millennials aged between 25-34, 28% of consumers rely on products with added nutritional benefits to balance out their indulgence intake, and 34% of consumers in the same cohort seek out the latest information on health and nutrition information.

Pimwadee Aguilar, associated director for food and drink, Mintel, commented: “With consumers seeking convenient ways to make up for their imbalanced lifestyle, brands in the food and drink space have an opportunity to tap into this need to help consumers feel at their best despite their busy schedule. To find success in functional food and drink business, brands need to develop products that provide customised benefits to fulfil the needs of different demographic groups.”

The report further identified the top three benefits consumers look for in functional food and drink products, namely brain health at 62%, eye health at 55%, and skin health at 53%. However, 53% of consumers prefer getting nutrients through regular food and drink rather than those with fortifications and this increases to 66%, among consumers over the age of 45.

“In Thailand, ‘naturally functional’ ingredients or products are perceived to be better than ‘added nutrition’ among consumers. Brands can appeal to consumers, especially adults, with food and drink products with functional benefits from natural sources as they convey ‘healthiness’ more strongly than those with synthetic ingredients,” Aguilar added. “To win consumer acceptance, manufacturers need to develop products which provide functional benefits, yet maintain ‘real food’ look and taste.”

Lastly, consumers want to look their best, even amidst busy lifestyles, as the research pointed out that 51% of consumers look for skin health, and 37% of consumers seek products that aid weight loss. Thai consumers also indicated their awareness and consumption of collagen and antioxidants at 73% and 72% respectively.

Aguilar concluded: “Collagen and antioxidants are the most popular functional ingredients among consumers as they seek ‘quick fixes’ to improve physical appearance and delay aging. Food and drink can play an important role in beauty and ingredients for healthy skin as collagen are seeing high awareness and usage.

“It is essential for brands to lead in educating consumers about ingredients and benefits the product delivers and offer convenient, effective and tasty beauty and weight management solutions to consumers.”