Page 21 - Malaysia Food Business Directory 2020/2021
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                 F&B TRENDS: BACK TO BASICS
 Food trends – not to be confused with food fads, which tend to be fashionable ideas that fizzle out – are an important part of the food business. For F&B manufacturers, retailers and other food service providers, trends – if done right – are income-generating opportunities that should not be ignored.
Consumers, while staying true to their perennial favourites, also crave new tastes and experiences. Food purveyors must step up to the plate – pun intended – if they want to cash in on this. It has become an annual ritual for experts in the business to play the prediction game on what trends consumers are going to find interesting enough to spend their money on.
Trends can be dictated by economic, social or cultural influences. They can come from within the food industry, such as from chefs and food suppliers, or from other areas, such as travel, lifestyle, art and fashion. Consumers themselves can spark a trend by showing an interest in something that they have tasted elsewhere.
Trends can be short-lived or long lasting. The staying power of trends depends on a number of things, such as affordability, availability and accessibility. But trends rooted in healthy eating tend to last longer. Around the world today, several
trends are apparent. There is an accelerating shift towards natural and healthy foods, which is timely because of the soaring obesity rate in Malaysia.
Malaysians are known for their love of food. We love it so much that it is now causing us health issues. Statistics show that Malaysia is now the fattest country in Asia. About 64% of the male and 65% of the female population are either obese or overweight. The country also has the second-highest child obesity rate among children aged 5 to 19 years in the ASEAN region. Additionally, 7.1% of children under the age of 5 are overweight.
Recognising this growing problem, the government has initiated numerous nutrition programmes over the years. The current National Plan of Action for Nutrition of Malaysia (NPANM) III, 2016-2025, spearheaded by the Ministry of Health, is a comprehensive plan that addresses nutrition challenges in children and adults with a number of strategies and policies, including the sugar tax that was imposed in April 2019. This was a welcome move, but more needs to be done. The fact that food trends around the world and here in Malaysia are heading towards a healthy direction can only be good news.
Dairy company Fonterra Brands Malaysia and market research company Kantar Worldpanel have found that healthier eating trends are growing in the country with more consumers willing to spend on nutritious options. A study by Kantar Worldpanel also revealed that oats came in third after nasi lemak and sandwiches as the preferred breakfast amongst Malaysian adults and children. Cereal bars are becoming popular as snacks as well. Fonterra Brands Malaysia, meanwhile, reported that dairy products such as milk, cheese and yoghurt are being consumed as healthier substitutes for carbohydrates.
There are many indications that an increasing number of Malaysian consumers are reading labels on food packets instead of just looking at price tags. Their growing preference for fresh, natural and minimally processed foods is creating some of these back-to-basics trends.

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