In terms of new flavours, we have begun to see a growing consumer interest in big, rich and more indulgent tastes from the west, which in turn have influenced an increasing number of food products and foodservice destinations.
In particular, we have seen a rise in interest in cheese flavours in restaurants and on supermarket shelves. As such, categories like instant noodles, savoury biscuits and crackers, and ice-creams are all starting to launch products that incorporate cheese in their flavour profiles.
It is a popular habit in some parts of Asia to add a slice of cheese to bowls of instant noodles prepared at home. Some brands have tapped into this behaviour by launching more cheese-flavoured instant noodles as a result.
For instance, Malaysian brand CarJen has added a Cheezy range to its premium Otentiq brand, which features Cheese Mushroom and Cheese Curry flavours.
Likewise, new product launches of cheese-flavoured savoury biscuits and crackers in the region doubled from 2015 to 2016—again, reflecting the increase in demand for more bold and rich flavours.
Campbell’s iconic Australian snack savoury biscuit brand Shapes launched two cheese varieties, again in Malaysia: Cheesy Cheese and Cheesy Pizza. Last year, in neighbouring Indonesia, it extended its Shapes range to include a Hot Cheese flavoured cracker variant.
The popularity of cheese-flavoured products has also swept over the ice-cream market, particularly in South Korea, illustrating the extent to which South Koreans have developed an appetite for this dairy segment.
A swathe of cheese-flavoured ice creams arrived in the country’s supermarkets, including Nàtuur’s cheese and raspberry flavoured ice cream, and Morinaga Cheese Ice Cream Stick.
Foodservice fashions have considerable influence over Asia-Pacific tastes and trends. Mintel’s 2016 global food and drink trend report, “Eat with Your Eyes”, still holds true today as Asian consumers continue to look for innovations that are boldly coloured, artfully constructed, and, sometimes, just plain cool.
Additionally, texture is really important to Asian consumers, and this will continue to be the case particularly as local cuisines tend to emphasise numerous combinations of flavours and textures often within a single mouthful.
And turning to dairy once again, Asia’s vibrant out-of-home ice-cream market has become a breeding ground for texture and flavour innovation, with no shortage of interesting combinations.
Again this market often takes its inspiration from the foodservice segment, resulting in products like cotton candy-topped ice-cream, for example, which has now been packaged by South Korean brand Haitai.
Elsewhere, ice creams from South Korea and Japan are gaining a reputation for their unique textural appeal.
In Japan, Moringa launched two distinctly different products, one on a stick and the other in a crepe, both featuring a chewy texture. The stick product features tofu and gets its “chew” from the inclusion of nata de coco, which is a chewy, translucent, jelly-like foodstuff produced by the fermentation of coconut water.
The crepe ice cream features a chewy crepe filled with custard ice cream, caramel sauce and fresh caramel.
As western foods and the influence of foodservice continue to exert more sway on Asian consumption habits, there are some parallels with habits in the west, where Asian flavours and dishes have long been established.
In essence, the world is a melting pot of cultures as countries keep on looking to each other for inspiration.
- Based at Mintel's Singapore office, Davina Patel specialises in delivering food and drink insights within the South Asia region. She is also part of the trends team, where she writes on trend observations for the region too.