Tackling the fibre challenge

By Lois Mo, marketing director, health and wellness, Asia-Pacific, ADM

Gut health has emerged as one of the top priorities in Asia-Pacific (APAC) as people take a more proactive approach to their health and wellness. Driven by the rapidly growing population and rise in disposable income, the APAC prebiotics market is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 15.6% from 2020 to reach US$4.9bn by 20281, witnessing the highest growth amongst other regions in the world. Increasingly, consumers here are recognising the importance of fibre in their everyday diets and seeking out functional products that contain prebiotic dietary fibre to support their gut microbiome and overall health.

Demand for prebiotics in APAC

As consumers become more knowledgeable about the gut microbiome, they are connecting the dots between various dimensions of health and wellness, including their digestive health and holistic health and wellness. More consumers believe that good digestive health contributes to overall wellbeing, and they recognise its effects on skin health, mood and focus. This holistic mindset encourages consumers to take charge of their health by making more mindful shopping decisions. In fact, over one in two (61%) of APAC consumers plan to address their digestive health over the next twelve months2, and we have observed a growing interest in using functional foods and beverages to aid digestion.

Prebiotics, in particular, feed good gut bacteria and keep the microbiota balanced. It stimulates the growth of beneficial bacteria which has been shown to improve digestion, the absorption of nutrients, as well as modulate the immune system. Consumers have never been more savvy in the role that food plays in their overall wellness, and prebiotic dietary fibre is becoming an increasingly sought-after ingredient to support the microbiome. Moreover, consumers are looking for convenient ways to include more functional ingredients in their diets such as dairy beverages, ready-to-drink shakes, fortified fruit drinks and sports nutrition.

This provides brands with an opportunity to innovate and provide high levels of fibre in food and beverages in the “better-for-you” space to support overall health. Additionally, product developers should prioritise taste and convenience, as busy consumers are more likely to favour functional solutions that are easily incorporated into their daily routines.

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