Food and Nutrition Consumers are engaging with food and nutrition like never before. Our in-depth analysis examines the most important implications across the industry, providing market intelligence, original thinking and key insights.

Impact of the Top Four Key Food Themes on Asia

Emil Fazira Profile Picture
Emil Fazira Bio

Despite Asia’s relatively soft inflation rates compared with several other global regions, cost-of-living pressures are continuing to play a major role in shaping consumer preferences in 2023 and leading up to 2024. In addition, travel resumption (with the reopening of China in early 2023) has meant changing day-to-day lifestyles and consumer values in terms of priority product attributes; all of which make for overarching shifts in key food themes in Asia Pacific.Key Food Themes Asia chart 1 pic.svg

The evolution of health-conscious eating

Consumers are prioritising holistic lifestyles, recognising the importance of a healthy diet for physical and mental wellbeing, and Asian consumers are no exception. The top two definitions of health selected by surveyed respondents in Asia are “mental wellbeing” and “having a healthy immune system” according to the Euromonitor International Voice of the Consumer: Health and Nutrition Survey (fielded in February 2023).

The top two definitions of health selected by surveyed respondents in Asia are “mental wellbeing” and “having a healthy immune system”

Source: Euromonitor International

This highlights the need for functional ingredients targeting the gut-brain axis and specific need states such as memory, stress, and sleep to provide consumers with products that can help them achieve their health goals.

Strong aversion to sugar and high carbohydrate/calorie foods is also an important factor to consider in Asia, partially driven by health conditions such as the high prevalence of heart issues: one in five Asians in 2022 was reported to suffer from high blood pressure.

Away from animals: Plant-based, cell-cultured and more

Globally, analogues for animal-based food are improving in terms of their spread across food categories, product development, penetration of market channels, and consumer awareness. The commercialisation of cell-cultured meat in the US is also a sign that meat analogues are fast developing beyond simply plant-based products, although plant-based meat and seafood substitutes in Hong Kong and Thailand, in particular, are showing strong positive forecast growth despite the latter having only established a sizable presence in 2021.

Technology and synergies with regulation will have a major role to play in the development of animal-based analogues in Asia. Particular challenges include price and taste, especially given the diversity of cuisines. However, with Singapore being a major hub for innovation (not just in the region, but also globally), it can be expected that further innovation will propel the industry forward. A recent win is Solein, a protein ingredient made via fermentation from oxygen, hydrogen, carbon dioxide and mineral nutrients. First launched as part of a menu showcase in Singapore in May 2023, it is promoted as “protein made from thin air”.

The evolution of snacking and eating occasions

Eating occasions and snacking patterns have been altered by global events. With the reopening of travel and formal workspaces, the out-of-home market is undergoing a resurgence. According to the Euromonitor International Voice of the Consumer: Lifestyles Survey (fielded in February 2023), 46% of Asian consumers claim that they typically eat snacks at home, in contrast to 53% in 2022, 54% in 2021, and 50% in 2020. This highlights a marginal fall in home occasions. Nevertheless, there is stickiness to at-home eating occasions compared to pre-pandemic years.

Key Food Themes Asia chart 2.svg

Habits in ordering food to-go and the strengthening of digital and delivery infrastructures supporting remote consumption will remain relevant. This is predicted to lead to a decline in the percentage of the eat-in segment in Asia Pacific’s consumer foodservice industry, at least in the short term.

In Asia Pacific, 75% of consumer foodservice sales were traditionally linked to eating in, but this declined to hover close to 60% in 2022 

Source: Euromonitor International

Premiumisation and affordability in food

Inflationary pressures continue to disrupt food markets in 2023, impacting both products of higher specific value and commodities as the cost-of-living crisis continues. In South Korea, the term “lunchflation” was coined, whereby lunch meals became increasingly expensive to consumers, who then reduced eating out occasions. Instead, many of them are now making the switch to instant foods from convenience stores that are more affordable. Even so, ready meals, which are perceived as offering specific benefits such as convenience and accessibility, are seeing steady price growth.Key Food Themes Asia chart 3.svg

There is greater emphasis then, on what makes a product “premium” and motivates consumer spending. In developed markets in Asia, such as Japan, “locally-sourced or manufactured” ranks high as one of the most influential food and drink features in 2023, according to the Euromonitor International Voice of the Consumer: Lifestyles Survey (conducted in February 2023), indicating expectations of quality and local expertise. In contrast, emerging market consumers in Asia, such as in India and the Philippines, favour attributes such as environmental welfare and organic.

The future of eating in Asia

Cost-of-living pressures will remain a short-term challenge for businesses to address, as prices continue to climb and food supplies are affected by severe weather volatilities, thereby driving the cost of commodities upwards. Price strategies and scrutiny of consumer habits will play out over the remainder of 2023 and into 2024.

Nevertheless, in Euromonitor International’s Voice of the Consumer: Lifestyles Survey (fielded in February 2023), 36% of Asian consumers responded that they intend to increase their spending on groceries up to 2024. In contrast, only 13% of them said they intend to reduce their spending on groceries, pointing towards a larger acceptance of having to spend more on food.

36% of Asian consumers intend to increase their spending on groceries up to 2024, compared to 13% who intend to reduce food expenditure

Source: Euromonitor International

Businesses will pay greater attention to premiumisation strategies to draw out value growth, such as introducing specific health benefits and features to their food products, and leveraging the plant-based trend. A long-term strategy will also involve studying consumption occasions, especially given the rapidly developing digitalisation ecosystem in both grocery and foodservice delivery.


Learn more about two of our four key topics in these reports: The Evolution of Health-Conscious Eating and Away From Animals: Plant-Based, Cell-Cultured and More.

Interested in more insights? Subscribe to our content

Explore More

Shop Our Reports

Where Consumers Shop for Cooking Ingredients and Meals

The cooking ingredients and meals industry saw the rapid growth of online sales during the pandemic turn to a slower pace as consumers returned to…

View Report

World Market for Cooking Ingredients and Meals

Cooking ingredients and meals has experienced turbulent times, with inflationary pressures and changing working environments in the post-pandemic world causing…

View Report

Competitor Strategies in Cooking Ingredients and Meals

The value of the cooking ingredients and meals industry neared USD500 billion in 2023, with Kraft Heinz, Unilever and Nestlé continuing their lead. This report…

View Report
Related Content The Evolution of Health-Conscious Eating Learn More
Related Content Away From Animals: Plant-Based, Cell-Cultured and More Learn More