An international study has found that consumers in Asia are far more likely to be interested in healthy eating than those living in Western countries.
Many of the findings from the Ingredient Communications agency study of 1,300 people around the world offered insights for confectionery manufacturers. For example, respondents were asked which actions they considered were important to achieving a healthy diet.
Cutting sugar was cited as important by 83% of consumers in Singapore and 70% of those in the UK, but only 55% of those in Canada, and 56% of Americans. Overall, 67% of consumers said cutting sugar was important.
For bakery manufacturers, there were interesting findings on gluten content. Avoiding gluten was seen as important to one in four (25%) consumers in India, but only one in eight internationally (12%).
Overall, results showed that of 600 Asian consumers surveyed, (68%) said they were ‘very interested’ in nutrition and healthy eating, compared to 38% of the westerners.
Levels of interest in nutrition were highest in India, where 82% said they were very interested in healthy eating, and in the Philippines (71%).
But from the 700 interviewed from Western countries, it was found that interest in a healthy diet was very low. Only 36% of respondents in the UK and 26% in Australia said they were very interested in nutrition and healthy eating, although in the US the figure was as high as 71%.
As the survey organisers explained, its findings highlighted the extent to which views about diet and health differ between East and West. For example, two in five (39%) respondents in Asia considered eating less meat to be important to achieving a healthy diet.
But only 25% of westerners felt the same way. Accordingly, a vegetarian or vegan health claim is nearly three times more likely to influence a consumer to buy a product in Asia than it is a consumer in the west (28% vs 10%, respectively).
Richard Clarke, director of Ingredient Communications, said: “When it comes to healthy eating, East and West are worlds apart, even in this era of globalisation. This emphasises the important of ‘glocalisation’.
Nutrition businesses need a clear strategy that taps into worldwide mega-trends, but must remain agile enough to adapt their approach in individual markets as required.”
Neil Cary, founder of Asia Opinions, said: “Asian consumers are well known for their knowledge of and passion for food, and this research shows just how much they care about nutrition and healthy eating. Food tends to play a more central role in Asian culture than in the west, and this is reflected in attitudes to diet and nutrition.”
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